Research Topic

Where to Raise Happy and Skilled Children: How Environment Shapes Human Development and Education

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Child development consists in a series of changes occurring in the individual, driven by genetic, biological, social, cultural and environmental resources and constraints.

Child development has been described and explained through different perspectives, focusing on the changes in different ...

Child development consists in a series of changes occurring in the individual, driven by genetic, biological, social, cultural and environmental resources and constraints.

Child development has been described and explained through different perspectives, focusing on the changes in different components (e.g. cognition, emotion, relations, language, etc.) implying different developmental processes (e.g. continuous vs. discontinuous, quantitative vs. qualitative, maturational vs. social processes) and using different scientific methodologies (e.g. lab experiments, field observations, cross-sectional vs. longitudinal research designs).
This long research tradition allowed to uncover the many ways a newborn turns into an adult, offering important indications to intervention, education and social policies.

Human beings, as all forms of living beings, are shaped by the characteristics of their life environments, impacting on the development of their skills, preferences, habits and behaviors.
According to an ecological approach to human development, child development occurs in a series of hierarchically organized environmental systems, characterized by specific properties, components and rules and linked by reciprocal, dynamic relations and interactions.
A long tradition of research aimed at disentangling the role of different aspects of children’s life environment on their development. Many authors have focused on the social-relational aspects of development and on the impact of specific activities for learning and acquisition.

However, the role of physical properties of the environments have long been neglected and, excepted for few pioneering studies in the Sixties, it is only recently that the attention of environmental and developmental psychologists substantially shifted towards investigating the relationships between physical environment and child development and behavior.
Two macro-topics in particular have been covered to this aim: the role of natural versus built environments in cognitive functioning, attention, social behavior and stress, and the role of spatial features of indoor environments (es. air quality, noise, spatial arrangement) in educational settings (e.g. child-care, pre-school, schools).

Nevertheless, the specific mechanisms linking environmental properties, socio-relational and behavioral processes with psychological outcomes still needs to be determined. Moreover, the development of methodologies for investigating the effects of the environment on cognitive and social well-being in young children, where self report measures are not reliable, is needed.

Manuscripts included in this research topic will contribute to this research fields by accumulating evidences on the socio-psychological factors involved in child-environment interaction. Particularly, the goal of this Research Topic is to offer new knowledge on the way physical qualities of educational environments influence children’s learning, cognitive and emotional functioning as well as social behavior, highlighting the mediator or moderator role of psychological and socio-relational factors

We welcome manuscripts providing theoretical or empirical contributions (both quantitative and/ or qualitative) focused on topics relevant to environmental factors of developmental psychology.

In particular, we welcome authors to submit manuscripts shading light on:

- The effect of different physical qualities, items, shapes of educational settings on the children and adolescents’ learning experiences and outcomes;

- The differential effects of indoor and outdoor learning experiences on the students’ learning achievement;

- The relation between environmental factors and educational practices in formal education settings;

- The effects of outdoor education and contact with nature on children’s and adolescents’ psychological outcomes and well-being;

- The effects of different outdoor environment on children’s and adolescents’ psychological outcomes and well-being;

- The relation between physical features of the educational settings and social relationships among students and between students and teachers.

We welcome a range of article types including original research, conceptual and systematic reviews, mini-reviews, perspective articles and article commentaries.


Keywords: Development, Education, Environment, Child, Adolescent, Relationships


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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