Hey Kids! Go Outside, Already

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American kids today spend only four to seven minutes a day playing outdoors. We hear a new call to raise the "wild child."

A child walks through a forest landscape. (Rudolf Vlček / Flickr)
A child walks through a forest landscape. (Rudolf Vlček / Flickr)

In the space of a generation, American children have been largely pulled out of nature. By one study, the average American boy or girl now spends, on average, just four to seven minutes a day outdoors. There are all kinds of reasons, but at heart it’s a lifestyle change. More screens, more protectiveness, more scheduled lives. American kids under what some call “house arrest.’ My guest today says that childhood divorce from nature is costing us, our children, dearly in physical and mental health and more.  This hour On Point: getting the kids back to nature. Raising the “wild child.”
-- Tom Ashbrook


Dr. Scott Sampson, dinosaur paleontologist and chief curator at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Author of the new book, "How To Raise A Wild Child: The Art and Science of Falling In Love With Nature." Host and science advisor of the PBS Kids series, "Dinosaur Train." (@drscottsampson)

Erin Kenny, co-founder and director of the Ceadarsong Nature School. Author of "Forest Kindergartens: The Cedarsong Way." (@CedarSongSchool)

From Tom’s Reading List

The Wall Street Journal: Resorts Promise Families the Perfect Getaway—From Electronics -- "Once a coveted perk at hotels or getaways, Wi-Fi has become something some parents will pay up to avoid as they plan their spring and summer travel. Strategies for prying children off of electronics include visiting wilderness areas without Wi-Fi service, or jetting off to foreign countries, where roaming charges make texting prohibitively expensive. Some parents plot to keep children too busy to crave computer time."

USA Today: Md. parents investigated for letting kids walk alone — "Maryland law prohibits children under the age of 8 from being unattended in a dwelling or car, but makes no reference to the outdoors. A person must be at least 13 years old to supervise a child under 8. Child Protective Services could not address this specific case but did point to Maryland law, which defines child neglect as a failure to provide proper care and supervision of a child."

NPR News: Kids Need Abundant Connection With Nature -- "One of the problems today is that kids don't have their sensory skills developed. We can walk outside and not hear the birds or smell the flowers or feel the air. And so the initial challenge is just to start noticing nature. Get kids taking pictures of it if they need to use technology. But just start to engage with it, become aware of it and at that point, you are actually doing nature connection for your kids."

See Our Blog For Some Suggested Nature Apps 

Read An Excerpt Of "How To Raise A Wild Child" By Scott Sampson

This program aired on March 26, 2015.


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