Eight Reasons More Outdoor Time Improves Kids’ School Performance

Be out there American children spend an average of six hours per day watching television, web surfing and playing video games,  By contrast, they spend an average of 30 minutes in outdoor sports and just four to seven minutes per day in unstructured outdoor play.  This causes many kids to lose their connection to nature and, importantly, renders them less able to learn in school.  Here are some of the main the reasons parents and teachers should know about how outdoor play times makes for better school performance.

1. Improved attention spans — the intense, ever-chaging and prolonged stimulation of electronic media cuts into the ability of children to sit quietly and focus on their school work. Some studies show that children with attention deficit disorders benefit markedly from an hour playing outdoors in nature.

2. Better overall fitness — we have long known that children in good physical condition are better learners.  Children who sit indoors warching TV for hours a day lack the conditioning to be effective effectrive in the classroom.

3. Less agressive behavior — the common "shoot 'em up" violence in television and video games teaches children that agression is a viable way to solve problems and teachers see it in class behavior.

4. Less anxiety and depression — children's moods lighten up when they have enough outdoor play time and helped them be better learners.  

5. Less isolation — outdoor play usually involves relating to other children.  It improves social skills and improves the ability for children to learn in teams. 

6. Improved eyesight – staring at electronic screen all day and not getting time outdoors has now been shown to cause higher levels of near sightedness in kids.   

7. More interest in science — children who appreciate the outdoors are more likely to relate to science education in a contect and outdoor classroom programs have been shown to increase interest in science learning. 

8. Higher test overall scores — There is considerable evidence that outdoor time and nature edcation has measureable effects on children's grades and overall performance on statewide tests in reading, math, science and motivation to learn.  

 If you would like to learn more, you can download NWF's Kids and Outdoor School Readiness Report

Also: check out NWF's Ecoacademics Weblog which lists studies of how school work improves through nature and environmental education.