Family 411 - Benefits of outdoor play

Family 411 - Benefits of outdoor play

A new study by the American Academy of Pediatrics says access to nature can improve kids' physical and mental health.

Reporter Lu Ann Stoia has our “Family 411” report, on why some parents are making sure exploring the outdoors is part of the routine.

Unstructured play in the woods for the Cherubini family means hands-on learning in nature is a priority.

“Being outside, being silly and playing in the leaves,” said mom Kelley Cherubini. “Getting dirty is important.”

Environmental educator Sandra Reed tells us she can teach science, math and reading, all outside.

Research by the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests children who are exposed to nature are better learners.

“Open creative play like this,” said Reed. “This is what we don't get anymore and this is what the kids really need, to grow up before they even enter the school system.”

Reed says parental fears of crime, traffic, even of nature itself play a role in keeping kids indoors.

“My kindergarteners, they sit on the grass, some of them won't,” said Reed. “They are afraid of the grass.”

“It's okay to get scraped knees, scraped elbows and fall down,” said dad Josh Cherubini. “It's part of growing up and learning how to deal with different situations.”

According to the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, the average American child spends seven minutes a day in play outdoors.

They also spend seven hours a day in front of a screen.

Of course, it's not all bad.

“I can't tell you how many apps on my phone for bird identification, or track identification, so we use technology,” said Reed.

“It's ok for them to be on screens and, you know, have that sort of entertainment,” said Kelley. “But you also need to be outside and expose them to the world and nature.”

“I am excited when I see this,” said Reed. “And I see mom and I see dad as a family, in the woods, kind of like claiming it back, and I hope to see more of it!”

The American Pediatrics Association says spending time in nature can improve heart health, weight management, ADHD and stress among children.

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