Last week’s “Leave No Child Inside” conversation — presented by the Providence Athenaeum, Providence Children’s Museum and Kidoinfo — featured an enthusiastic exchange of ideas and resources for increasing kids’ outdoor playtime.
Some of the issues:
- Kids today play outside considerably less than their parents did, potentially less than any generation in history.
- The quantity of kids’ homework is increasing and impacts time for play.
- Kids have too much structured time, both in and out of school.
- Some schools and communities lack appropriate spaces for play — or other kids who play outside.
- Low-income kids’ opportunities for free play and outdoor play are especially limited and they are at a higher risk for play deprivation.
Some of the ideas:
- What if schools devoted time to outdoor education, to learning in outdoor environments?Â If, starting in 1st grade, every child at every school could spend at least one week outside? (Inspired by The Wheeler School, where each 6th grader spends 8 weeks in an outdoor classroom and demonstrates better focus than in a traditional classroom.)
- What if schools gave less homework, and/or found ways to make after school assignments more creative and interesting or involve the outdoors?
- What if parents joined forces and reclaimed kids’ out-of-school time (which makes up 80% of their waking hours), and allowed kids to play outside in their neighborhoods together?
- What are YOUR ideas of ways to ensure kids get more outdoor playtime?
The conversation often hit upon the hot-button issue of recess, which is the topic of the next conversation in the “Speaking of Play” series:
What Happened to Recess?
Tuesday, April 2 from 7:00 – 8:30 PM
Where: The Providence Athenaeum (251 Benefit Street in Providence)
Recess is crucial for kids, resulting in better attention span, improved classroom behavior, and important opportunities for free play, creativity and interaction with other children — yet it is increasingly limited or withheld.Â Join the great recess debate!
Panelists: Alicia Bell, Elementary art teacher and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School parent; Dr. Lauren Greve, Psychologist and Vartan Gregorian Elementary School parent; and Phyllis Penhallow, URI Lecturer and Chariho Elementary School parent. Moderated Janice O’Donnell, Executive Director, Providence Children’s Museum.
Outdoor play resources:
- Children & Nature Network (www.childrenandnature.org)
- RI Families in Nature (www.rifamiliesinnature.org)
- RI Environmental Education Association (www.rieea.org)
- Partnership for Providence Parks (providenceparks.org)
- By Richard Louv: Last Child in the Woods
- By David T. Sobel: Beyond Ecophobia, Childhood and Nature, Children’s Special Places, and Place-Based Education
photo credit: Susan Sancomb