Forest bathing. Forest schools. Doctors prescribing walks in the woods. The evidence that kids benefit hugely from spending time outdoors is undeniable and mounting. Better school performance, sharper social skills, less depression and hyperactivity, improved sleep—all are tied to spending more time playing in nature.
But modern parents face challenges when it comes to getting kids adequate, unstructured outdoor playtime. From the limiting of recess at school to the draw of technology at home (and everywhere), to the endless violin, Tae Kwon Do and travel lacrosse leagues vying for a spot on kids’ schedules, parents struggle with how to slot in time for a simple romp through the woods.
The danger, of course, is as kids grow up, their regimented, digitized, adult-directed lifestyles become entrenched to the point that, as Slate’s Laura Smith suggests, “Perhaps popping a pill is less daunting than an overhaul of our daily routines.”
That’s where green hours come in. It’s the genius new idea courtesy of Collin O’Mara, head of the National Wildlife Foundation. Writes O’Mara in the Washington Post: