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April 29, 2008


“Researchers pointed out that outdoor play and nature experience have proven beneficial for cognitive functioning, reduction in symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), and an increase in self-discipline and emotional well being at all developmental stages. But American children, on average, are spending only 30 minutes of unstructured time outdoors each week.”

HELLO!!!! Lovely post Donna, I hope you don't mind, but I have to run outside and gather my crew for patio reading ;)

Lovely post, and I agree 100%...but...many people are afraid today to let their children roam free due to concerns about abduction, pedophile, random street crime and traffic. I know 30 years ago I had a lot more freedom to roam but there was far less traffic to worry about. Also there were many other children around and mothers at home, so the world itself seemed safer. I have tried to let my 13 year old have more freedom to ride his scooter on his own, but I do worry about traffic. And don't forget many more mothers have to work these days, so they don't want their kids wandering the streets. My friends who work have always tried to find wholesome afterschool programs for their kids but this is not available in many places (or costs too much $$). Many of us who live in urban areas find our only "nature" in large city parks (which I would not be comfortable letting kids roam around in) or on traffic-filled streets. Just a thought from a different perspective.

Loved this post, Donna. All of it. Just great!

Each location has it's dangers, Lady Hatton. You may have to teach your child how to deal with inner city street crime in order to admire the squirrels in the park while I must instruct my dd how to get back into the boat safely if a shark drops its pecs. Other locations have snakes and spiders and cliffs. Using these fears as reasons to keep a child indoors and hooked up to a bluescreen is not logical, and in fact, highly detrimental.

Dear Lady Hatton,
Thank you for your comment. I wholly understand your perspective…I lived it!
When my two oldest children were young, we lived in a townhouse in the very urban area of Cherry Hill, NJ. I worked full time for a huge corporation that required frequent business trips to Chicago. Time for any outside activity was very limited. Still, because I had grown up in a home where the TV was kept off, I instinctively passed that along to my children. On weekends we packed up and headed to the preserve, the park, or the ocean. Living in an urban area does have it’s own unique advantages…zoos and aquariums! My son was shark-crazy and his passion was inspiring. My daughter had a love for tigers that has never dwindled.

There are so many ideas for families living in the city: planting small gardens, hanging window bird feeders, putting out weather instruments and monitoring the weather as a family, having the children put together their own detective kit that includes a magnifying glass, notebook, and colored pencils to record interesting findings such as spider webs, leaves, and insects. Using a microscope to examine puddle water is easily done in urban areas, too.

With a bit of desire and sacrifice, children everywhere can experience the natural world.

The research is too important to dismiss. Children and nature belong together!

Have you read _Last Child in the Woods_ by Richard Louv? (probably the same Louv as in the 1991 quote above)

What a wonderful post this is! And so true. When I was a kid, we left in the morning every bright summer day and stayed out running, jumping, climbing, riding bikes, playing "neighborhood chase" and so on, all day long. I can't imagine giving my kids that level of freedom today -- as someone else noted, it's a different world out there -- but I want them to love and experience the beauty of the world outside as much as they possibly can.

When I was teaching, a daycare classroom teacher down the hall told me that, by law, she had to take her class (of 3 & 4 year olds) outside for a half hour every day, because her room had no windows.

No windows, even...and only 1/2 hour outside a day. For kids just barely out of diapers -- and only because it was legislated. How sad.

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