Why city trees can be good for kids’ brains

Plus, 9 ways to find the wild in your neighborhood—wherever you live

With three kids under eight years old, New York City parents Kimberly and Sam Leopold made proximity to nature the top must-have during their recent apartment search. “We spend time in a park two or three times a day,” says Kimberly, who lives in a 750-square-foot South Harlem apartment with her husband and daughters. “Honestly, it’s a matter of survival. The kids are just happier when they can play and explore outdoors.”

And it turns out that a regular infusion of nature—in particular, seeing and being around trees—could help bolster kids’ thinking and reasoning skills, too. A recent British study of more than 3,500 city-dwelling children and teenagers from across London found that having a higher daily exposure to woodlands (basically, places with trees) can help kids’ cognitive development.

The good news is that kids can—and should—get a daily dose of trees and other nature even if your family lives in a city or suburb, says Tim Beatley, founder and executive director of Biophilic Cities, which advocates for future cities in which residents are surrounded by nature.

Read This Next

Train your kids to be wildlife detectives
How to raise a volunteer scientist
De-stress your kids with a forest-bathing adventure