Kids Need Hours Outdoors Daily
Russ Chastain 03.08.19
I recently ran across a blog post which claims that “children should be outside for 4-6 hours every day.” And I can’t say I disagree.
As a young ‘un, I spent a lot of time outdoors. There really wasn’t that much to do inside our house anyhow. We got 3 or 4 TV channels, we had no video games, and we lived in a place where I could roam in the woods nearby, often to my heart’s content.
It was undoubtedly good for this skinny, shy kid.
The author of the article in question states that while she’s aware that 4-6 hours per day is recommended — saying “I first came across this time recommendation in the works of Charlotte Mason, a classical English educator who lived at the turn of the 20th century” — she can only manage to do it three or four times per week. Still, that’s a lot more than many kids get these days.
She was a hesitant convert to this philosophy, but gave it a try and became a believer:
At the invite of a friend we began to spend large immersive chunks of time in nature and immediately my eyes were opened. Children who are allowed this freedom of time outside get lost in nature. They get lost in their imaginations and they get lost in wonder. And then they rapidly develop. There are many factors why but one reason is due to the rich sensory environment that nature always provides.
She also notes that the findings of Charlotte Mason are being backed up by modern research as well:
In Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident and Capable Children, Angela J. Hanscom writes ‘kids of all ages should get at least three hours of free play outdoors a day.’ (emphasis in original)
I’m sure glad I spent a lot of time outdoors as a young person, and I continue to do so as an adult. It enriches my life and I’m sure it has made my life more complete. Our planet is nothing short of awe-inspiring, and can best be enjoyed via “boots on the ground,” so to speak.
She makes another good point as well:
If children can consume media through screens 1200 hours a year on average than [sic] the time is there and at least some of it can and should be shifted towards a more productive and healthy outcome.
Sounds right to me. After all, it’s not called “The Great Outdoors” for nothing!