…because kids do better when they're active and outside!

Playdates are replacing free child’s play in the USA and it’s having detrimental effects on our children’s development.

“Since the 1970s, kids have lost an average nine hours of free playtime a week. Kids are getting less free time outside. And when kids are given recreational activities, they are likely to be adult-led and supervised.”

Children learn important skills – social, emotional, and physical on the playground, but that time is being eliminated from their lives.

“The rise in childhood obesity coincides with the drop in outdoor playtime. Playgrounds challenge small bodies and helps kids develop gross motor skills.”

“Play is part of our DNA. It’s directly connected to brain development. Play absolutely alchemizes learning, rather than hampers it.”

Every Child Outdoors

If you ever need any information on the effects of getting kids outside and active, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has it! In their Every Child Outdoors document they’ve got just about every study ever done.

Our Every Child Outdoors research – summarized in this document – draws together the findings from the wide range of research that has been carried out into the positive impacts that contact with nature has on children, as well as on the environment. It also explores some of the consequences of the loss of such experiences and, sadly, the increasingly used term of Nature Deficit Disorder to describe the phenomenon.

Color me impressed! A school district in Parish, NY is building a new gym – which means they no longer have their old one. Rather than just telling the kids they don’t need PE, the teachers and administrators have come up with an ingenious plan to keep their kids moving – including many more activities outside!

I wonder if we could start a movement to delay the building of the gym?

Ya gotta love The Onion! Earth to be Made Child-Safe!

“Renamed the Sportin’ Kids Family Fun Play Globe, the planet will be biologically and topographically overhauled to provide youngsters worldwide with a safe, unimposing, family-oriented environment full of colorful, round-edged objects and plush items.”

Sadly, I’m relatively certain there are some parents out there who will read the article and seriously think it sounds like a good idea.

Are we really keeping kids safe by child-proofing our playgrounds? Here’s what Dr. Sandseter and a fellow psychologist, Leif Kennair, of the Norwegian University for Science and Technology had to say:

“Climbing equipment needs to be high enough, or else it will be too boring in the long run. Children approach thrills and risks in a progressive manner, and very few children would try to climb to the highest point for the first time they climb. The best thing is to let children encounter these challenges from an early age, and they will then progressively learn to master them through their play.

“By gradually exposing themselves to more and more dangers on the playground, children are using the same habituation techniques developed by therapists to help adults conquer phobias.”

YeeHaw! Now groups who have traditionally taken kids out to play in the national forests won’t be able to. The red tape and fees will drive them right smack dab in front of the good ol’ TV.

Groups used to be able to simply get on a bus and head out to national forests “but over the past several years, lots of those groups have noticed a growing challenge at getting permission to play in the woods. Permits for group activities on national forests are harder to get, change and follow.”

Add to the paperwork and fees the simple fact that groups now need to plan exactly which day they plan to be in the national forests a year in advance and you’ve got many groups deciding it’s simply not worth the hassle. And that means, for many kids, their one and only chance at being in the natural world has been taken away.

That’s sad.

Are we doing our children a favor by wrapping them in bubble wrap and protecting them from all the potential dangers in the world? The Boston Globe addressed that issue in their article, The Armored Child

Throughout history, parents have done what they could to protect their children from harm – by burying the umbilical cord for good luck or wearing amulets to protect the children from evil. But have we taken it too far now?

Once upon a time kids were taught responsibility instead of fear, and were encouraged to make formative mistakes instead of being vigilantly insulated against them.

Michael Ungar, a social work professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and author of “Too safe For Their Own Good,” has written about how the overprotective impulses that lead to things like helmets and kneepads during children’s early years end up hurting them as teenagers and adults. Though Ungar says there has never been a clinical study comparing people’s psychosocial health based on their parents’ child-rearing strategies, he says that developmental psychologists have shown that experiences involving independent risk-analysis and problem-solving do contribute to individuals’ maturity and stability. If parents prevent their kids from having those experiences, Ungar argues, those kids will be stunted in various ways.

“You want kids climbing trees, you want them having bumps and bruises,” Ungar said. “It’s an equation for parents to do the math on: If you take away all those things – if you take away all the risk – that’s great. But then you have to put back opportunities for the life lessons.”