Perhaps parents are working more hours and aren’t home to supervise latchkey kids. Perhaps video games and movies on demand are so much more common than they should be. Perhaps the increase in global news coverage and communications has convinced parents that there is a pedophile lurking around every corner. Perhaps we are too lazy to go outside ourselves and then our children follow our lead. Perhaps our lifestyles are overly scheduled and the only time that a kid gets to touch the grass is at an organized sporting event, and then that grass is manicured and sprayed to be perfect turf.
Perhaps we should just GO OUTSIDE!
Kids need free play time outside in order to help to stimulate their sensory nervous system. And, believe it or not, this stimulation also leads to a sense of calm in ADD and ADHD kids. Kids need to run and play and swing and spin and roll and get dirty, sweaty, and stinky. Looking at images formed in the clouds and laughing and dreaming while laying in the grass are not wasted times for a kid (or an adult), it’s all part of who we are meant to be…connected to the Earth, our home.
In generations past, children had chores to do, sometimes inside the house, often in the barn or yard. After chores could come fun–swimming in a creek, traipsing around the woods, building forts, playing chase or tag, etc. This allowed kids to burn off excess energy, be connected to the dark/light cycles and seasonal weather changes that we experience. It made them healthier, hardier folks who tended to understand the world around themselves in a more meaningful way.
I recently ran across a wonderful article by Angela Hanscom that explores what has happened to eliminate outdoor play from our children’s lives. She begins with a tale of a trip outside with children,
The third grade classroom that was visiting our nature center for the day consisted of mostly boys–rowdy, loud and rambunctious boys. As we started out into the woods, the children spoke loudly to each other in anticipation of what was to come. After playing a quick game and explaining the ground rules, it was time for free play. As soon as the children realized they had the freedom to explore and build in the woods, something funny happened – they got really quiet. They dispersed and many of them started working together to build a large teepee.
Nothing gives me more pleasure then to see children contentedly building a structure using branches and logs out in the woodland. That is, until fear kicked in and everyone’s pulse increased a few notches at the shrill cry of alarm.
The article goes on to explain some of the many sensory inputs that children receive from outside free play and why they seek out and find certain ones at certain times in their lives. It’s a great read and I hope that you will take a few moments and check out the full article here.
I love trail riding and playing in my tiny garden. What is your favorite outdoor activity as an adult?
Till next time,