Thursday, October 20, 2011

8 Ways to Get Outside More

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.

Often, however, it’s hard to find the time to get outside. In addition to increased screen time, our kids’ days are packed with extracurricular activities.

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.


  1. Like the hunting idea, you are the 2nd person that has recommended that this week, must be onto something!

  2. So glad-- hunting for an object with your kids is so much fun.