It’s Time to Get Outside

Hi, everyone. After a summer blogging break, I’m back with a new challenge: the indoor child.

Yesterday, Michigan’s online news magazine, The Bridge, ran a piece I wrote, Let’s Open the Door for Student Success, about an unrecognized epidemic that’s harming our children, our communities, and our planet. Gone are the days of kids spending their days outside. Now most kids rarely see the outdoors, and instead are plugged into computers and electronic media – an average of 7.5 hours per day per child, not even counting schoolwork, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. And kids recognize 1000 corporate brands, but not even 10 things in their own backyard.

This indoor childhood trend hurts kids health (obesity, diabetes) and ability to learn in school. It also depletes the conservation ethic for the next generation – how can kids learn to love what they never experience? And that threatens our communities and all of our futures.

This problem is one we can solve, and it won’t break the bank. Here’s what I wrote in The Bridge:

Part of that new course must be flipping the current balance of indoor-outdoor time during the school day on its head. For too many kids in the Great Lakes State, school is exclusively an indoor experience, and they suffer for it. Research shows that school programs that get kids outside (school gardens and habitats, daily outdoor recess) have proven to better engage students, reduce dropout rates and improve test scores.

Using the schoolyard, community and landscape as the classroom — a learning model called place-based education — is another vital step we must take. Studies (and practical application) show that engagement in learning is heightened through place-based education, as is achievement, natural resource conservation and citizenship.

Reaping the rewards of place-based education requires teachers and administrators who are equipped, trained, supported and comfortable in implementing place-based education best practices. Therefore ongoing professional development in those best practices is essential.

Read the rest of the article.

And for more ideas and information on how to get kids outside, check out our Be Out There campaign!

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