That doesn't seem to happen too much anymore. Parents are afraid to let their children outside unsupervised. More families have two working parents and finding the time to get outside with their kids is often low on the list of priorities. Kids have more to occupy themselves indoors than they did 30 years ago - I had the TV; my kids have the TV with DVDs, gaming systems, the computer, and mp3 players.
The National Wildlife Federation has a program called Green Hour that is encouraging families to get their kids outside for one hour every day. The Green Hour is one hour of unstructured play outside each day. That means that soccer practice doesn't count!
Why unstructured? According to the Green Hour website, children who have unstructured playtime outdoors:
- Play more creatively
- Have lower stress levels
- Have more active imaginations
- Become fitter and leaner
- Develop stronger immune systems
- Experience fewer symptoms of ADD and ADHD
- Have greater respect for themselves, for others, and for the environment
Making this happen may take a big change in a family's schedule. It may take unscheduling your kids - dropping a structured activity or two. It will most likely mean limiting TV or gaming time to 1/2 hour a day or only on weekends. My kids can only play their gaming systems during the school year on weekends. It may mean getting out from in front of the computer or TV for parents so they can go outside to keep an eye on the kids.
GreenHour.org has a list of activities that parents can get their children to do if they are unsure about how to start a Green Hour and they even have a weekly podcast with ideas and advice.
What do you think of this? How did we get to a point in our society that we need a program like this to get our kids outside!? How do you get your kids out the door and away from a video screen?