Only 1/3 of kids play outside as often as their mothers did. Think about that—that can't be good. Now, compare that with the speed at which technology gets more intuitive and accessible by the day. Something our family and many others are realizing is that, even without concerted effort, our kids are unlikely to have a problem learning to manipulate devices, play games, or code for themselves (incidentally, all great ways to learn). Their friends will do it, they'll do it in school, they'll do it on the go. So since these skills will effectively come for "free," it's time for parents to start using their spare time to leave the i-whatever at the door, and get outside!
Don’t worry about following any activity step-by-step, just give it a shot and make it yours. Whatever you do together, they’ll benefit from being outside—and being with you.
Ok, I'm in. But where do we go? You don’t have to venture to a national park, or hike deep in the woods where only the most grizzly of mountain men go. Your kids can get tons of benefit in a local park, that small woody patch on the edge of the neighborhood, or even the tree-spotted land on the edge of the sports fields—just target a place where nature has been allowed to do its thing. If you do want help finding green spaces near you, visit naturefind.com.
Why outside? Mounting research, our own direct experience, and some good old common sense have convinced us that spending time in nature is vital for our children, and we want to get you hooked too. For all of it's inspiring space, untapped problems to solve, compelling terrain, and living elements, a natural setting provides the optimal environment for childhood learning, not to mention the contributions to greater physical and mental health and cognitive development. Don't just take our word for it, read more here:
- See how time in nature makes kids healthier in this gorgeous infographic from National Environmental Education Foundation.
- Read Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods (or his latest book The Nature Principle)—it changed our lives.
- View a diagram we made to show how meaningful time outside benefits the whole child.
- Go to Children & Nature Network’s research & resources section or download C&NN’s synthesis of leading research.