Getting Kids to Rediscover the Great Outdoors

Posted on July 6, 2009  Comments (6)

photo of lantern tree

Back to nature: Getting kids to rediscover the great outdoors

Childhood is supposed to look like this, according to many children’s health experts and an increasing number of landscape architects and urban planners. Wading in puddles or streams, building hideouts, climbing trees or exploring a “secret” outdoor spot develops the senses, stimulates the imagination and releases pent-up energy. Studies show that “a dose of nature” can be more effective than a dose of medication in reducing the symptoms of attention deficit disorder (see sidebar). Obesity and depression are alleviated, too.

“Nature stimulates that sense of wonder,” says UW Health psychologist Katie Watermolen. “When kids are outside, they are less anxious, more creative, more relaxed. All that leads to improved mental health.”

A 2007 report released by the American Academy of Pediatrics says free and unstructured play is healthy and, in fact, essential for helping children reach important social, emotional and cognitive developmental milestones as well as helping them manage stress and become resilient.

Great stuff. I agree. See photos of my hikes in national parks. The 2007 report doesn’t believe in free and open science though – outdated closed science journal rules apply. When will people lean – both that science should be open and nature is good for kids? Progress isn’t helped when the scientists working for public schools restrict their research by allowing journals to hide their research from the public.

Photo by John Hunter at Forest Glen Preserve, IllinoisCreative Commons Attribution.

Related: Nature Recreation DecliningKids Need Adventurous PlayParfrey’s Glen Natural Area in WisconsinThe Great Sunflower ProjectPlaying Dice and Children’s Numeracy

6 Responses to “Getting Kids to Rediscover the Great Outdoors”

  1. Tom
    July 7th, 2009 @ 1:21 am

    I agree with katie, I myself growing as a child loves the outdoor. But because of these video games now adays, kids just lay down on their beds playing rather than exploring the outdoors.

  2. Will
    July 8th, 2009 @ 12:50 am

    Yep – A kid outdoors is usually a happy and healthy kid. Plus now there is lots of evidence that kids getting covered in dirt playing outside leads to healthier immune systems and adults later on.

    Thanks for your ideas on the spam. Interestingly, one of these odd folks left 20+ comments today. What a lot of work for them, unless the automated spammers have just gotten really, really good.

  3. Rohit
    July 8th, 2009 @ 6:36 am

    lovely pic

  4. turisuna
    July 11th, 2009 @ 8:49 am

    I was lucky because I grew up at village with beautiful river and green rice field, so I didn’t have difficulty to do outdoor activities after school or at holiday. But I don’t know about my children in the future, because now I have to move to town because of my job. Nature helps me to be more creative and gives good ability to survive.

  5. Encouraging Curiosity in Kids » Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog
    February 6th, 2012 @ 11:50 pm

    […] Getting Kids to Rediscover the Great Outdoors – Science Toys You Can Make With Your Kids – StoryCorps: Passion for Mechanical […]

  6. Lynn Hayes
    March 12th, 2017 @ 7:04 pm

    I was lucky to have been raised on a horse farm.We were always outside, after chores we would go up in the hayloft, out to the woods,and horse pastures. We pretended to be anyone or anything we wanted to be, depending where we were on the ranch. It was so much fun. I wish I could go back and relive those days again.

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