Finally, a Facebook challenge I can get behind! The 1,000 Hours Outside challenge! This is a new challenge going around Facebook, with encouragement to get kids away from electronics. This was based, in part, from research showing that the average american child watches 1,200 hours of television per year – that’s just over 3 hours and 20 minutes per day! Yikes! Today’s children spend on average, half the amount of time playing outside as their parents did. The challenge was started by Ginny and Jason Yurich after learning of the recommendations of Charlotte Mason, an educator from the 19th century. She recommends children spend 4-6 hours per day outside, and that many academic lessons can be enhanced by being outside in nature. Ginny reported, “The entire point of 1000 hours outside is to attempt to match nature time with screen time. If kids can consume media through screens 1200 hours a year on average, then the time is there and at least some of it can and should be shifted toward a more productive and healthy outcome.”
Today, so many schools are decreasing recess, families are spending less time outside, and kids aren’t allowed to even engage in some of the childhood activities that we played growing up. Some schools have banned “tag” as kids have gotten hurt due to kids exerting too much force when tagging.
“There’s so much focus on the ABCs and the 123s that sometimes the developmental things, like how much force to use during certain activities, slip by us. These un-testable skills hold their merit. As adults we need to know how much force is acceptable in a hand-shake and how that force differs from what’s needed to use a hammer. These are not things we innately know. They must be learned!” (https://1000hoursoutside.com/index.html/)
As their time outside decreases, so do some of their skills. Kids learn so much about how their body works by playing, jumping, crashing, hanging, swinging, and even falling. When we limit their interactions, we are limiting their development of body awareness. Between homework, tutoring, soccer practice, speech therapy, piano lessons, ABA, nap time, work, chores… the list goes on… Who has time for being outside? It’s not seen as a priority, when in fact it is so crucial and will actually make some of those other things easier!
Benefits to being outside:
- Kids get the sensory input their bodies need. Muscle input, ability to use their “outside voice”, tactile input with sand/ grass/ etc, vestibular input on swings, proprioceptive input with climbing, crashing and jumping, and more!
- Kids will be more regulated/grounded which will allow better focus on homework.
- Fresh air + exercises is a great recipe for sleep! Kids might even go to bed a little earlier (hey, that leaves extra time for a cup of tea at night!)
- Less inside play = less toys to clean up
1,000 hours might not be feasible with your family’s schedule, but what about 100 hours over the summer? 5 hours per week? 30 minutes per day? Set a goal for your family and stick to it! We have tracking sheets to help you track your time outside! Stay tuned for another post of activities to do outside.
Want more information, or more resources? Here are 2 websites to check out the following –
-Cassie Whiteaker, OTRL