Would you agree that a larger population of children these days don’t get enough exercise? A big part of the problem is that kids are spending too much time indoors, and not enough time outdoors. Period. A large part of that is due to kids spending more needed time on homework and school activities which leaves less time to be outdoors. Also, kids are spending more time on addicting activities like watching TV and playing video games. I personally don’t find anything wrong with having a balance of both, as long as there is a true balance. Let’s explore why it’s important to make the outdoors as important as the indoors.
They need a connection to nature.
I read the other day that only a small percentage of children know the names of the plants that are growing in their own backyards. This didn’t shock me only because my kids wouldn’t know those answers either. Unfortunately, not teaching your kids how and what grows around us, will only lead to problems down the road. Understanding how local plants work in tandem with our direct environment, which ones help each other pollinate and grow, which ones are poisonous and which ones are good for the soil etc, will greatly help their conservation efforts to their future. I hear people talking about how kids need to be conservationists because their elders were not. This is a large part of that.
They need solitude for their brains.
Kids (and let’s be honest- adults also) have so much going on in their brains these days. More things to do and remember and more things expected of them. Life moves fast and seems to get faster and more complicated every day. The magic of the outdoors, wherever you can get it in silence, is that it seems to make all of that go away. At first, it is hard to sit in silence in nature and not have something to preoccupy your brain. With no games on your phone or social media to watch, it can be very difficult to sit in peace. Listening to the sounds of nature can be really hard to get used to in the beginning. Especially if you haven’t done it before. But it’s a proven fact that you NEED it. You NEED to have this time to let your brain rest. Not only does it keep your mind clear, it opens your brain for a more active type of listening and thinking. This allows your creativity to flow and be a part of you rather than a distant memory.
They need to learn an appreciation for nature so they can save it later.
Once a child participates in what nature has to offer, they are more willing to help it survive. We need to make the outdoors a great place to be so that kids will want to come back and they will want to help save the things they want to keep around for the long term. If they don’t have the connection and the love for nature, they won’t have the will to keep it clean and safe for even future generations.
They need to experience new things without a clock nearby.
The list of items a child has to do on a clock every day is astronomical. Taking one day of the week out of their life, you can see their entire day’s runs on a schedule. Get up at 6:30 am, eat breakfast and get ready for school. School starts at 7:45 am and then each class time is allocated in a time slot for each days. Kids in middle school and higher are on a timetable to get from class to class. Every little detail is spread out for them. Add extracurricular activities after school and the list keeps going. Dinner and bed are the last things in a kid’s mind as they end their day. Nothing was left unplanned. Nothing was spontaneous. And if they were lucky, they got to spend a little bit of it outdoors.
They need the exercise.
This one seems like a given, however, the kids in the United States are suffering from this dilemma. Less time outdoors means less time doing sports or fun activities in the outdoors and that means less exercise and less fun. Of course, you understand the effects of having no outside time to run and play. This type of activity harbors our obesity problem and a lot of our mental health problems a well. Plain and simple. You need to make this a priority for your kids as well.
This all may be common sense to you, but it isn’t for some. Don’t take it for granted. Share your knowledge with others. Share this article and lead by example.
P.S. And don’t forget to document all your outdoor adventures! Invite me along for the ride so I can do it for you. Not only does this take the pressure off of you but it lets you relax and be free to do what you want!