Research has shown that the simple act of being outdoors can help children with concentration and learning. So why aren’t kids outside more?
“New research by The Countryside Alliance Foundation (TCAF) shows a strong demand for outdoor learning amongst parents, with 91 per cent wanting the countryside to play a greater role in their children’s education and 92 per cent thinking that their child would benefit from being given hands-on tuition in the countryside. Interestingly, these very same parents also tell us that they believe that one of the biggest barriers to getting children out of the classroom is the red-tape and health and safety fears.
“The benefits can be immense. Outdoor education helps children gain a practical understanding of the world around them; builds self confidence; tests their abilities; enables them to take managed risks: and develops a sense of responsibility and tolerance towards places and people.
“Outdoor learning can also help children and young people understand subjects like maths or science through real world examples and first-hand experience. While academic achievement is important, outdoor education can play a significant role helping pupils develop soft skills like good communication, team work and leadership; all of which are essential to the well-rounded education that is vital for life beyond the classroom.”
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.
Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) announced the No Child Left Inside bill last month.
“The measure (HR 3036) would amend the federal No Child Left Behind Act in ways that would free up funding for environmental education. The five-year-old landmark education initiative of the Bush administration mandates annual testing in reading and math and has been criticized by some for prompting school officials to give less emphasis to other subjects. Sarbanes’s bill is designed to serve a multitude of purposes, including getting kids outdoors to creating more environmentally conscious citizens.”
Today’s children are gravitating away from the natural world in favor of sedentary indoor activities.
“This trend may have a negative impact on the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development of our children, and fail to provide experiences that help them understand how their lifestyle choices impact the environment. Limited time in the outdoors may prevent them from enjoying future outdoor pursuits.”
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services these are the facts:
- Vigorous intensity physical activity is important for healthy growth and development among children and adolescents. A positive
- association has also been found between physical activity and improvements in concentration, memory, and classroom behavior.
- Due to environmental constraints (lack of safe, convenient places to play) and busy schedules, many children don’t have a chance to participate in unstructured, child-centered play.
- Environmental learning that integrates “school subjects” using real world activities helps students understand the world can positively influence student achievement.
- 90% of adults who participate in at least one human-powered activity began participating in outdoor activities between the ages of 5 and 18.
- Three to twelve year olds who spend more time outdoors are likely to be more physically active.