7 Benefits of Raising Kids in the Country

For kids, there's little not to love about country living. With trees to climb, bugs to catch, and plenty of dirt to dig in, even the simplest backyard outing can be an adventure. Yet what their parents might not realize is that the benefits to raising kids in a rural environment don't end there, not by far. From lower stress levels to greater creativity, country kids have the edge over city slickers in a variety of ways. Read on to feel even better about where you live (or for reasons to contemplate a move to greener pastures).

  1. Country kids have fewer allergies. It's called the "farm effect," a phenomenon where kids raised on farms have remarkably low rates of allergies and asthma. One study by the University of Gothenburg determined that children on dairy farms have one-tenth the average risk of developing allergies. Researchers theorize that early exposure to a farm's plethora of pollen and other potential allergens trains the immune system to not overreact.
  2. They're less stressed. Growing up surrounded by trees, flowers, and fields isn't just about pretty scenery. One study published in the journal Environment and Behavior examining 337 rural children found that kids with high levels of "nearby nature" had lower stress levels than those without.
  3. They're more coordinated. Turns out climbing on trees and rocks trumps a jungle gym any day! In a Norwegian study comparing preschoolers who played daily in a forest versus kids who played in conventional playgrounds, those in the former group showed greater gains over the year in balance and agility. The reason: the uneven topography of natural settings are more challenging to traverse, resulting in better dexterity.
  4. Nature reduces symptoms of ADHD. In one study published in Children's Environments Quarterly, kids exhibited fewer symptoms of ADD or ADHD after they walked through a park; the more green surrounding them, the fewer symptoms they displayed.

    More from The Stir: 25 Signs You're Raising a Country Kid

  5. They're more creative. In one study done in Chicago, researchers watched kids play in the great outdoors. They found that kids in green spaces played more creatively than those in areas without vegetation. Scientists have also found that kids with backyards engage in more varied and elaborate play patterns, including complex make-believe stories.
  6. They're more self-disciplined. Another study in the Journal of Environmental Psychology found that teenage girls with green views outside their windows were better at controlling their impulses and delaying gratification than girls with more barren views.

    More From The Stir: 6 Scientific Reasons You Should Raise Your Kid in the City

  7. Country kids are the smartest ... provided they eventually move to the city. City kids may seem all savvy and sophisticated, but a study by the University of Helsinki found that country bumpkins actually have the edge with intelligence in certain circumstances. According to long-term research of migration patterns, the highest IQ levels are found among kids who grow up in the country, then move to the city as adults. These kids scored in the 57th percentile for cognitive ability, whereas kids who start out in the city and remain there score only in the 52nd percentile.

Are you raising your kids in the country?

Image © Arman Zhenikeyev/Corbis

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