Remember when you were young? When you couldn’t wait to go outside and play with your friends? When snow days meant snowball fights and summer vacation meant being outdoors until you had to go home for dinner?
Many adults have great memories of childhoods spent outside. But that’s all changed. Today, children spend their time glued to TV screens and video games and rarely venture into the fresh air.
This is contrary to what we think an ideal childhood should be, but it’s much more than that: This aversion to nature is detrimental to kids’ physical and emotional well being.
According to a report (PDF – will download) from the National Wildlife Federation, the costs of an “indoor childhood” included increased child obesity, diabetes and asthma; reduced ability to relate to other children and adults; less realistic life expectations; inability to concentrate; more aggressive behavior; and a higher likelihood of personal isolation.
Want to know more? Here are some shocking facts and stats from this must-read report:
- The average American child, age 8 to 18, spends nearly eight hours per day, year round, indoors looking at electronic screens
- 78% of children who spend regular time in outdoor play are better able to concentrate and perform better in the classroom
- 82% of students need daily outdoor time as a counterbalance to the significant time spent indoors in front of electronic media
- 75% of students who spend regular time outdoors tend to be more creative and better able to problem solve in the classroom
- Today’s children may have life spans that are three to five years shorter than their parents’, due to their inactive indoor lifestyles
- Today’s children are less physically fit, less able to concentrate and are less able to relate to peers and adults than any previous generation of children
But there’s good news…
- Outdoor education and play time helps students become high-performance learners with skill sets that will be with them throughout their lives
- Exposure to natural settings may be widely effective in reducing attention deficit symptoms in children
- Many people will naturally associate environmental education with improved understanding of science, but it also contributes to the development of basic skills, including reading
- Hands-on and real-world aspects of most environmental and outdoor education improve students’ desire to learn and boost their performance on most measures of student success
- Outdoor education is particularly effective at helping under-resourced, low-income students perform measurably better in school
What can you, the teacher, do to change the indoor childhood trend? Well, first you can keep educating yourself (and others!) on the importance of getting kids outside. And, you can find creative ways to bring learning outdoors!
Here at Kites in the Classroom, we make it easy to combine fresh air, learning and fun. Our kit kits are a go-to idea that you can use year after year, and best of all they’re affordable! Want to learn more? Learn about our kite kits, get inspired by our project ideas and read what other teachers are saying. And of course, you can always contact us!