With demanding homework schedules and the draw of screen time, it seems like our younger generation is spending far less time outside then we did when we were growing up.
Whether you live in the city and you enjoy a small garden space, have dinner on your back deck or head to the park before bed, spending more time outside can benefit your kids beyond just getting them a good night's sleep.
Research has shown that kids begin to excel and grow the more time they spend outside.
Time Outside is Decreasing
It's no secret that green outdoor space has been declining over the last few decades. With more houses and infrastructure taking up what use to be forests, creeks and swamps, it can be harder to get away from the concrete jungle to enjoy nature.
It is far too easy for a child to go through the week sitting 7 hours a day in a classroom, an hour or sitting at their desk doing their homework and then spending the remaining hours in front of a screen of some sort.
"Today's indoor kids are distracted, less fit, more aggressive, and hard to manage in the classroom. Some don’t relate well to other students or adults on a personal level." says Vice President for Education and Training Kevin Coyle. "Outdoor time can improve overall health while lengthening attention spans, diminishing aggressiveness, improving test scores and ultimately advancing learning."
Almost without thinking, we have retreated indoors for learning, to prepare our food, work and earn a living. We have found a whole new way of life different than those of our ancestors.
Playing Outside Improves Learning
As parents we want wants best for our children. We hire tutors when they struggle in a subject, we sign them up for extra-curricular activities so they have something to look forward to each this week and we attend parent teacher conferences to keep tabs on their learning.
So if you found out that spending more time outside would give your child a hand in the classroom, would you make it top priority?
Studies have shown that time outside, particular active time, improves memory, focus and concentration. It also aids problem solving, fine motor skills and creativity. All those skills are essentially in a successful student.
According to several reports, outdoor play can help kids with everything from attention spans to aggressive behaviors and improving test scores.
It's just for kids, if you're feeling bogged down at work or overwhelmed at home, take a quick break outside and it will be sure to clear out the cobwebs.
Time Playing Outside Improves Health
Physical activity, fresh air and sunshine all play a role in keeping our kids healthy. Getting enough Vitamin D through exposure to the sun is essential to helping our immune system fight off and recover from illnesses.
A child who is spending regular time playing outside, is not only getting exercise for their lungs, heart and muscles, they are also getting vitamin D from the sunshine. Healthier kids mean less sick days, which means more focus on learning.
“It’s important for students to be outside because when they’re in outdoor spaces, they’re more active,” Schaefer said. “What’s really important about the study is not just that kids are moving more, but they’re moving more in a moderate-to-vigorous way.”
So even if you don't own acres of land or have a forest in your backyard, just heading to the local community park is enough to get the muscles moving. Playing games with outdoor toys or taking a walk to feed the ducks is a great way to not only get the kids outside, but spend time with the family.
Source: Modern Alternative Mama / The Globe and Mail