How often do you come home from a day at the beach, a hike in a National Park, or a visit to an arboretum or botanical garden and think “well, that was just the worst day I have ever had!”? Probably never! Barring an unfortunate bee sting or a sprained ankle, a day in nature — or even just an hour — leaves us feeling refreshed. When we are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, adults crave the outdoors.
Our children need to be in nature just as much as we do, if not more. As our “Safer at Home” restrictions are loosening as parks and trails reopen, we find ourselves with the unique opportunity to witness our kids reemerging and letting loose for the first time in months.
Without the constraints of four walls at home, children are free to imagine, create, build, and explore. While the American Academy of Pediatrics no longer restricts screen time to a limited number of hours, they do recommend that families set aside time without technology and engage in activities that do not require digital devices.
Now that most school is being held in homes across the country, using more technology has become nearly unavoidable even though many educators are making the effort to create assignments that incorporate time away from screens. Kids are also spending more time in screens to stay occupied while their parents attempt to work from home.
Studies have shown that excessive screen time can lead to sleep problems, social problems, and increased aggression, all of which can have a negative impact on success in school. One way to address these problems is by going outside. According to one study, unstructured play enables children to develop “milestones ranging from movement development to language, conversation, and problem solving abilities.” Running around, climbing, and jumping also releases energy. When playing games outside, children get endorphins from something they have worked toward, not just provided for them effortlessly by a tech-based game.
With so much digital distraction available right at our fingertips, parents need to make a conscious effort to ensure their families unplug.
At iSprowt, we have committed to spending part of this Memorial Day weekend completely unplugged and we encourage you to do the same – adults, too! Join your kids in building a rock sculpture, assembling a boat from leaves and sticks, catching a fish, going on a hike, or climbing a tree – whatever brings them joy. You will not regret the endorphins you will feel, the joy you will hear in their excited voices, or the quality time you will spend together making memories.