There’s so much talk in this country about how much time children spend watching TV and playing video games. We hear the statistics—four to six hours a day, a quarter of their childhood spent on screens.
Rarely, however do we talk about the alternative: getting kids outside more. Recent studies show that children ages 6-13 spend only 6% of their week outside alone. Children ride their bikes less (down 31% since 1995), and Aquatic Adventures in San Diego discovered that 90% of inner city kids did not know how to swim, and that 34% of them had never been to the beach.
Author Richard Louv has spoken often about the nature deficit in this country and the value of getting outside: happy, healthy children, kids with ADD who find that nature becomes their Ritalin, and children who gain a sense of place.
Author Kim Painter offers suggestions for 5 simple ways to get outside with your kids—taking homework out of the house, tracking the seasons, carving a pumpkin, going outside after dark, and leading the way.
Here are a few more:
1. Take your meals outside. Even if you’re only sitting on the front steps with a plate in your lap. You’ll feel more relaxed. Plus your food will taste better.
2. Go on a hunt. Have your kids find a rock, a leaf, a cloud that they love.
3. Exercise with your kids. I’m guilty of this. So often my time exercising is my only time to clear my head. But recently on a sunny day, I ran while my kids biked. It was a rare light beaming into my life as a parent—we could all play together.
Happy Fall-- Get after it outside.