Trees Help Children Grow Happy and Healthy!

Growing up, I loved to climb trees. When I was seated in the branches of a tree I could be anything I wanted, from a forest fairy overlooking her kingdom, to a firefighter saving an (imaginary) cat. Trees played an essential role in my childhood, but they did more than just fuel my overactive imagination. Trees benefit the health and wellbeing of all people, but they hold unique benefits for kids.


Claire with redwood tree in Muir Woods, California


To start, trees and nature have been shown to enhance childhood development. For example, there are Scandinavian forest schools, where preschoolers learn and play in forests and natural environments, which help kids to develop physical, social, emotional and personal skills. Furthermore, for older kids, climbing trees and exploring natural environments develops problem-solving and risk-management skills, boosts confidence, and improves physical dexterity.


Children climbing a tree


Additionally, as is the case with adults, trees have a positive effect on the health of kids. Trees create a comfortable, shaded area where kids can play, which encourages physically active play. Kids who live near trees have been found to be more physically active and have lower rates of obesity. Furthermore, urban trees have been shown to limit asthma attacks in children. Trees also benefit the mental health and wellbeing of kids, with trees having been found to limit stress and promote relaxation in both children and adults.  


Boys walking through trees


Trees can also improve the academic performance of kids. They have been credited with allowing all kids to focus better and have even been reported to lessen symptoms of ADHD. Furthermore, kids who have access to green space, which includes trees, have better working memory and even experience an increase in their cognitive development.  


Boy plays by tree


From chauffeuring kids to soccer practices to helping with homework to putting food on the table, parents do so much to ensure the health and happiness of their kids. As it turns out, getting kids out into nature is one of the most meaningful things a parent can do to raise a healthy, happy kid.


Happy girl walking through a field


This blog was written using information from the following resources:

Benefits of Connecting Children with Nature: Why Naturalize Outdoor Learning Environments

Study Reveals How Forest Schools Can Benefit Children’s Development

7 Benefits of Climbing Trees

Healthy Trees, Healthy Kids!

The Mental Benefits Provided by Urban Forests

Why Green Spaces Are Good for Your Kid’s Brain


If you would like to plant trees where you live, check out LEAF's subsidized planting programs for single homes or multi-units.


Claire Chadwick is the Youth Program Assistant at LEAF.


LEAF offers a subsidized Backyard Tree Planting Program for private property.  The program is supported by The Town of Newmarket, The Regional Municipality of York, City of Toronto, Toronto Hydro, Oakvillegreen, Town of Ajax, and Ontario Power Generation. For details on how you can participate, visit