The pressure to give our kids an academic edge seems to begin right after the pregnancy test comes back positive. Once pregnancy is confirmed, it’s immediately time for high quality fish oil supplements and for specialized belly headphones that we can play classical music through! The pressure seems to continue all the way through childhood with an endless list of activities and opportunities we could enroll our kids in, many of which seem like eventual college resume builders. Should we do lil’ kickers soccer at 18 months, preschool at two, dance at three, gymnastic at four? In elementary school should we add karate, girl scouts, violin lessons, art class, after school tutoring, and more?!
Throughout childhood there will be many voices encouraging you to enroll and each enrollment will certainly have some merit. What you probably won’t feel is much pressure to play outside. It isn’t a huge money maker, so there aren’t many advertising it’s worth. And yet, the childhood developmental benefits of outside play are extensive in every realm. Before you succumb to the pressure to enroll in it all, check out these five books! Each one is a powerful, yet gentle reminder of the merits of simplistic outside play. Bonus: Playing outside is usually inexpensive, fun, and easily accessible!
Depending upon our walk in life, there are certain trends we do not see. Physical and occupational therapists are on the front lines of the trends in childhood development. What they are observing is immensely important for parents to know. It’s easy to gloss over childhood play as a frivolous use of time and yet children are experiencing many delays simply due to not getting enough time to move their bodies in nature.
Angela J. Hanscom is a pediatric occupational therapist who has gone beyond seeing the problem of many developmental delays in children to coming up with a solution! She is the founder of Timbernook – an award-winning developmental and nature-based play program for children. From front cover to back cover, you will learn from and be inspired by her book, Balanced and Barefoot! The extent to which nature play helps our children is mouth-dropping. Balanced and Barefoot is an easy, enjoyable and encouraging read!
This book directly ties in with our experience and why we began the 1000 Hours Outside challenge to begin with! We have spent years hiking and exploring in the all the different wooded areas near our home and we don’t run into other families with children. Last Child in the Woods gives an in-depth look at nature trends for children over the past several decades, citing extensive research and anecdotal quips.
Richard Louv has written nine books about children and nature. His books have been translated and published in 24 countries. He is also the co-founder of the Children and Nature Network, an organization that is inspiring families around the globe to get their kids back into the woods!
“Now, my tree-climbing days long behind me, I often think about the lasting value of those early, deliciously idle days. I have come to appreciate the long view afforded by those treetops. The woods were my Ritalin. Nature calmed me, focused me, and yet excited my senses.” -Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods
If there ever was a book that would give you complete confidence to schedule in downtime for your kids, this is it! Play is powerful! This book will remind you again and again of the great gains a child will receive when we step back and give them freedom to lead their play.
Peter Gray is a research professor in the Department of Psychology at Boston College. Beyond this book, he has a blog dedicated to the instinctive drive of children to play and explore. Check out Freedom to Learn on the Psychology Today website.
“Children come into the world burning to learn. They are naturally curious, naturally playful, and they explore and play in ways that teach them about the social and physical world to which they must adapt. They are little learning machines.” – Peter Gray, Free to Learn
This book was the missing link for me. “What about winter?” is the question we get asked most at 1000 Hours Outside. Certainly we have some tips and tricks, but mostly we have viewed winter as something to be endured. Reading this book changed my perspective. Weather is just weather and if we are dressed correctly for it, we can go outside and enjoy nature anytime of the year! After reading this book we were inspired to cook outside year round as well!
Linda Akeson McGurk is a Swedish-American who gives great perspective on the cultural differences surrounding outside play between Swedes and Americans. Her writing is witty and captivating. This book was incredibly informative but it was also a fun read as well! McGurk has many other great writings about nature parenting and outdoor play on her blog,Rain or Shine Mamma.
“Simplify childhood and resist the urge to try and keep up with the Joneses’ kids. Remember that a preschooler needs very few things besides ample time to play freely, and that filling his or her schedule with a litany of “enriching” activities can do more harm than good.” -Linda Akeson McGurk, There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather
I definitely thought learning was all in my head so this subtitle (and then the entire book) totally caught my attention. Movement is a precursor to all learning!This is a jam-packed read filled with a significant amount of science and research. You will learn so much from Smart Moves and in turn, be so inspired and encouraged to take your kids outside knowing how significant the benefits are. Additionally, you will learn many different types of crossing the mid-line movements that can help in a variety of situations (both for kids and adults)!
“Thinking and learning are not all in our head. On the contrary, the body plays an integral part in all our intellectual processes from our earliest moments in utero right through to old age.” -Carla Hannaford, Ph.D, Smart Moves
From a favourite site of mine, https://1000hoursoutside.com/.