Get Outside and Play! Often our teachers and I reminisce about our childhood. Just this week one of our teachers shared her favorite play was making mud pies with tin pans in her yard.
A fond memory for me was how I spent hours in a tree that in my imagination was a house, with each branch being a room. As adults, many of us have fond memories of entire days spent outdoors, playing with friends without any toys, props, gadgets or screen time.
Today our children’s play allows less and less time outdoors. I recently read an article about the huge reduction in the amount of time children today are spending outdoors. (50% reduction in just the last 20 years) The National Wildlife Federation’s campaign, “The Green Hour,” wants to see this generation of children back to climbing trees, collecting more rocks, hiking trails, etc. It’s a campaign to get parents to give their children an hour daily of outdoor, unstructured play and interaction with the natural world.
According to The Green Hour’s Web page, children who regularly spend unstructured time outside:
• Play more creatively
• Have lower stress levels
• Have more active imaginations
• Become fitter and leaner
• Develop stronger immune systems
• Experience fewer symptoms of ADD and ADHD
• Have greater respect for themselves, for others, and for the environment
It doesn’t have to be a chore but a break from our chores. An important break that would feed your child’s mind, body and spirit. Read the following, taken from the “The Green Hour” website, below:
• Outdoor play increases fitness levels and builds active, healthy bodies, an important strategy in helping the one in three American kids who are obese get fit.
• Spending time outside raises levels of Vitamin D, helping protect children from future bone problems, heart disease, diabetes and other health issues.
• Being out there improves distance vision and lowers the chance of nearsightedness.
• Exposure to natural settings may be widely effective in reducing ADHD symptoms.
• Schools with environmental education programs score higher on standardized tests in math, reading, writing, and listening.
• Exposure to environment-based education significantly increases student performance on tests of their critical thinking skills.
• Children’s stress levels fall within minutes of seeing green spaces.
• Play protects children’s emotional development whereas loss of free time and a hurried lifestyle can contribute to anxiety and depression.
• Nature makes you nicer, enhancing social interactions, value for community and close relationships.