Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Playing Outside

Yesterday I read about a study that’s been done on children and playing. Seems they discovered that it’s much healthier for kids to go outside and play than stay inside and be entertained. Who couldn’t agree with that?

I played outside just as much as I could when I was a kid. At four, I wanted to be a “hula girl”. Somewhere there is a picture of me in my grass skirt and my underpants. Topless too.

Then in the third grade I decided my goal was to become a cowgirl. My horse was a bicycle, but it was a horse to me. The sidewalk wasn’t a sidewalk at all, it was a trail through the mountains to some pretend adventure. Dirt was for drawing secret plans to do one thing or another.

I had all sorts of little kid ambitions and they changed over the years, but I gotta tell you I had more fun with my imagination and the kids in the many neighborhoods in which I lived than I’ve ever had in front of a TV or a computer screen. There were no limits to what you could imagine or who you could be or where you could go, when you were a kid who played outside.


Blogger Lew Scannon said...

Children are more easily managed in front of the television screen, playing their Xboxes. Plus, you don't have to worry about them being snatched by some pedophile, or running with the wrong crowd, or doing drugs.
Yes, inside in front of the television they are much safer, playing violent video games or watching endless commercials for unhealthy foods, getting no exercise and growing obese.
It's tough being a kid these days.

October 10, 2006 3:37 AM  
Blogger Undeniable Liberal said...

Although I envy today's kids for the toys that they have, nothing beats going on a "hike" and doing some serious exploring, from morning until the streetlights come on.

October 10, 2006 5:10 AM  
Blogger Pogo said...

I'm fortunate to have a kid who loves to be outside and to live in an area where he can do that with me worrying (well, not too much anyway) about him disappearing at the hands of some sick asshole. I can still remember getting my ass wet from sitting on wet grass waiting for my friends to get up and come outside so we could decide whether we'd ride our bikes to Woolworth or Grant's, or maybe ride to the pool for the day, or maybe go walk down to the creek and build a dam or see what was further down it than we had walked before, or maybe play baseball or football, or just go hang out in the woods, or if it was later in the summer, go pick blackberries and try to catch snakes at the foot of the hill. We never tried to decide what to watch on TV because we were essentially not allowed to go into our houses long enough to watch a show until after dinner. Funny, we were all skinny then - wonder why? My kid does some of that, plays soccer, basketball and swims, and toys with playing football and baseball, too, but he also does too much of the bad crap inside that lew scannon mentioned. But so far he hasn't shown any interest in anything I think will scar him for life and make him do nasty things to nice people. I thank my lucky stars.

October 10, 2006 5:53 AM  
Blogger Sue Woo said...

"No Child Left Behind" has resulted in many schools omitting recess in order to have children score higher on tests. Stacks of research shows that children's brains need fresh air and activity to develop fully. It all just makes me wanna holla.

October 10, 2006 6:23 AM  
Blogger carbunclefrank said...

Hi Pat

Thanx for the visit. This is a great post. Brought back all kinds of memories about being a kid. There wasnt any TV (Oh my , How old I must be) when I was growing up so outside was the only place to play. As long as we're waxing nostalgic, does anyone remember putting a playing card on their bike fender with a clothespin so it would sound like a motorcycle? As far as posting pix goes. I upload them after I write so maybe I should reverse that process, huh? I'll have to come here more often.

October 10, 2006 6:26 AM  
Blogger Sammi2u said...

I am very lucky in that my daughter already loves to go outside lol will in fact sit at the door and cry with my Mom’s dog to go out! This weekend she discovered how much fun it is to step on autumn leaves, she loved the crunch noises it made and over the summer we discovered she is part fish and never wanted to leave the water!

When I was a child I remember playing outside until it was dark and my mom would call me and I would pretend not to hear the first few times just to get that extra few minutes! Great times! I hope that my daughter continues to love playing outdoors and if her Grandfather the gardener guru (lol his own self appointed title) has anything to say about it she will!

October 10, 2006 6:28 AM  
Blogger aikane said...

When I was growing up my family had no television in the house, but some Saturday nights we'd have potluck and Gunsmoke at my aunt's house (that's also where we went to see special events like the news of JFK's assassination).

I grew up on a farm surrounded by woods, so I had plenty of adventure, both real and imaginary. Add to that a school library full of books, and I was never bored. At times I may have felt deprived -- but now I know better.

October 10, 2006 6:34 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

My little ones love being outside, my two teens do not. I remember my mother having to cruise the neighborhood at dinner time in a car to find which ditch or plot of trees we were playing in each day. Now all we do is call their cell phones and tell them it is dinner time.

Sue Woo, it isn't as much the NCLB Act as it is school administrators. There are creative solutions, such as the one my local elementary school has chosen. Instead of six classes per day, they now have seven. They trimmed about 5 minutes off of each class, and now have a time for "Phys Ed" and a session of "recess." Phys Ed is structured for health and sports, Recess is freedom on the playground. Now thay actually get time in the morning and afternoon for physical activity and being outside, instead of just one.

October 10, 2006 6:37 AM  
Anonymous Knox Rover said...

When I was a kid in the 1960s, I played outside from morning to dusk. We rode bikes, playing in dumpsters (I have a killer immune system now!), tried to catch tadpoles, built forts and planted gardens on vacant lots, explored, plus all of the usual kid games like "hide and seek." I don't remember there being one obese child in my elementary school. However, I realize that today it would be dangerous to turn your kid loose on a bike and forget about him/her all day.

October 10, 2006 6:47 AM  
Blogger Peacechick Mary said...

I too look back at the thrill of running free through the neighborhood; playing baseball on an old lot, riding our bikes, running, running, running. So many of the parents I talk to today feel that they must supervise their children all the time for the reasons Lews mentioned. Often, the only playmate a child has is his/her parent - sad. I hope we can take back freedom this fall.

October 10, 2006 6:47 AM  
Blogger Frederick said...

Me and the girls went playing outside yesterday:

Fall in Central New York

October 10, 2006 7:09 AM  
Anonymous karena said...

We played outside non-stop. There was a house under construction, and we set up an entire bakery assembly line on the saw horses. After we got our planks of wood in place to make a counter top, we made donuts out of mud. We decorated them with powdered cement sugar, etc. We also rode bikes, played kickball, went to the trails where we would swing like Tarzan on a vine hanging over a creek. Once we stood on a hill and blew whole dill pickles out of our mouths to see how far they would bounce. Dill pickles are quite bouncy when launched from ones mouth down a hill! I may go do that in a bit, as soon as it stops raining. I haven't done that in a while.

October 10, 2006 7:45 AM  
Blogger SB Gypsy said...

We lived on a lake when I was little. We had our own dock and red sand beach. We just had to be within hearing distance of the old type schoolyard bell. If we weren't back home within about 10 minutes of mom ringing the bell, we were in deep trouble.(and deep trouble THEN was alot scarier than "time out" or "You're Grounded")

October 10, 2006 7:47 AM  
Blogger Pogo said...

Absolutely remember putting cards on the fender braces for that m/c sound - the more the better - we also used baseball cards - it would n't surprise me if I had put a mantle rookie card or maris mvp card on my bike then threw it away when it wore out.

October 10, 2006 7:48 AM  
Blogger Pam said...

I find I am too nervous/paranoid to let my kids play outside by themselves. I will let them go in the fenced in backyard while I have open doors and windows though. And they play outside at preschool several times a day! We also limit TV to 30 minutes a day and no video games (yet!!).

Great post PoP - you have inspired me to get the kids outside more!!

October 10, 2006 8:16 AM  
Blogger Ole Blue The Heretic said...

I was raised outside so to speak, never watched much television nor played arcade games. I was mostly outside and somehow that made me very curious about the world.

October 10, 2006 8:51 AM  
Blogger Doctor Rick said...

Wow, finally something I can agree with. We all envision an ideal world wherein everyone respects others, strives to succeed and is helped up when they cannot and where we can live side by side in safety.

Unfortunatly, because not everyone shares the ideas of Western thought (or civility), the world can be dangerous.

Good post.

October 10, 2006 9:41 AM  
Blogger azgoddess said...

i baby-sat my granddaughter last week and we played inside with all her toys

but then - we both kept looking out in the back yard

and so i said - let's go out and play

she got this big grin on her face and out we went...playing and playing - exploring the outside world...make mud pies and picking the not quite ripe lemons off the tree and throwing them for the dogs to catch...

October 10, 2006 10:09 AM  
Blogger sumo said...

I grew up in a Los Angeles suburb so there weren't any woods to set up my cauldron in. But we had sidewalks and I wore them out with my bike and skates. I loved the water so much my father decided I needed a pool for the mermaid in me...he got tired of waiting for me at the local plunge. And then there was the beach and surfing...I found my calling. Given a choice of Disneyland or the beach...Huntington won out everytime. I can thank the pool and the beach for my few bouts of skin cancer...it was so worth it! And in between all those activities...I was glued to books.

October 10, 2006 12:02 PM  
Blogger Tina said...

My dad has the ability to whistle one of THE most shrill and piercing sounds you have ever heard. My sisters and I (and every kid in the neighborhood for that matter) knew that when they heard my dad's whistle early in the evening it meant you had better hustle home b/c it was dinnertime, and when they heard it when the streetlights came on, it meant you had better stop playing "ghost in the graveyard tag" and hustle your butt home and get a bath. And I'm guilty of being completely paranoid when BabyGirl is outside, too. I have to be glued to her side. I wish I didn't feel like this, but dangerous situations dictate it. But that being said, Hubby did build her a fabulous wooden sandbox and a gorgeous cedar fort/ swingset and slide in our backyard that she absolutely loves.

October 10, 2006 12:13 PM  
Blogger DBK said...

Man, when I was a kid I was never indoors until I was around ten. Then I used to read a lot and my mother would yell at me to go outside and play. When I was 13, I spent about four hours a day on the basketball courts with all the other kids my age, all summer long. It didn't matter the season: I was always outside.

When my nephew was around twelve he lived in Hawaii for a couple of years. He never wanted to leave the house and was always sitting in front of the computer playing some dumbass game or other that involved shooting something or finding "relics" or something like that. Now he's in his early twenties and a real head case. Most of the kids I know who have reached their majority in the past ten years and spent a lot of time watching TV or playing computer games or otherwise not playing much are head cases now.

So they needed a study for this? They couldn't just call me? They couldn't apply common sense? Someone had to spend hours and hours collecting data for that? Well, I hope it does some good for someone.

Next stop: let's turn off the air-conditioning and remember what weather feels like.

October 10, 2006 1:16 PM  
Blogger DivaJood said...

I loved playing outdoors as a kid. I still love it as an adult. I grew up in a nice suburban neighborhood, with lots of kids, and huge yards, and we all played together like one huge amorphous mass: hide and seek, four square, dodge ball, softball. We climbed trees. We played tag. We put on plays. We rode bikes.

Overnight camp for three summers in the Great North Woods of Wisconsin (Camp Chickagamee, ages ago!) - we learned to canoe, to camp, to ride horses, to chop wood.

I moved to Los Angeles from Chicago because I like being outside. Don't own an air conditioner, and drive with the windows open. I kayak. Back in Chicago, my grandbaby loves to be outside. She likes to pick up leaves, study them, and put them back down.

My kids were raise to play outside. They still love it. I'm with DBK, who needs a study for this? Get kids outside, let their imaginations run, let them be creative, rather than "entertained."

October 10, 2006 2:02 PM  
Blogger Blueberry said...

I posed in both of those outfits (the hula girl and the cowboy) but that's because we were living in Hawaii and Arizona.

Outside is healthier for the body and brain for kids, maybe adults too. Today's video games scare the bejeebers out of me.

October 10, 2006 3:29 PM  
Blogger pinkfem said...

i put my kids TV in the closet for 5 years and they had to paly outside. The teachers thought we were really poor since we didn't have a TV when the assigned homework was to watch a particular show.

October 10, 2006 3:33 PM  
Blogger Lola Heatherton said...

But when a person plays outside, doesn't that sort of destroy her manicure? And what if the martini spills? Now I'll be up all night worrying.

October 10, 2006 3:37 PM  
Blogger The Future Was Yesterday said...

Oh my Gosh!:) Ma used to tell us what time supper would be....it was up to us to be there, or eat it cold.:) The things I was. Wow! I think I was about everything at one time or another. Imagination was often the only toy available, but Man, was it ever a toy and a half!! It took me to the moon, where I could "dive bomb" my Sisters, among other things.

October 10, 2006 4:09 PM  
Anonymous paris said...

I was a princess in a Castle and they boys in the neighborhood were all dragons breathing fire on my golden hair and I would feed them poison pills (if you can remember the pastel colored candy you bought on paper)....

October 10, 2006 4:42 PM  
Blogger bluegrrrrl said...

My best friend Evan used to come over so he could play with my barbies. He brought his toy trucks and horses and cowboys and indians for me to play with. Our parents were very conscientious about gender. We had to hide in the tall brush on the one side of the house, but that made it even more fun.

October 10, 2006 4:56 PM  
Blogger BBC said...

Studies, bah, telling us what we already know. I spent a lot of my teens out in the woods. Would put a little food in a pillow case, grab a blanket, a fishing pole, and be gone for a week.

Boy, those where the days.

October 10, 2006 6:43 PM  
Blogger betmo said...

me too- i'm a reader too. of books with no pictures even.

October 10, 2006 6:55 PM  
Blogger L>T said...

wow! those were the days, weren't they? I'm thankful my kids have got to grow up in the country like i did. One of my favorite memories is my kids playing marco Polo in a field we have behind our house. their little heads popping up out of the tall grass. MARCO....POLO...

October 10, 2006 8:30 PM  
Blogger fallenmonk said...

Growing up in the country kids had a lot of responsibilities but that didn't keep us from having fun. We learned to work fast and well (sop we wouldn't have to do it over) and then we could play. Cowboys and Indians, explorer, Army and everything else the imagination could create. I still think my favorite was big game hunter...no guns just a game of trying to sneak up on wildlife and see how close you could get before they saw or smelled you. It made you have to pay attention to the environment in such things as wind direction. The real thrill was getting close enough to almost reach out and touch them.

October 11, 2006 4:46 AM  
Blogger Mary said...

Aww Pop, theres a picture of me as a hula girl too. Same deal. We'll have to compare pictures sometime.
We used to build extensive forts in the woods.

October 11, 2006 5:35 AM  
Blogger Steve Bates said...

When I was a kid, for most of my childhood, my family couldn't afford a TV. I played outdoors every moment I could. Even in the middle of a big city... I was born literally in downtown Houston, and lived there for my first three years... it was possible for a kid to have a good time outdoors, though I have more photos and parents' descriptions than actual memories. Based on the photos, I had a cowboy outfit, a baseball bat and glove, and eventually a bicycle... and apparently I made good use of all of those.

I certainly have made up for that good start by spending much of my adult life sitting in front of one or another screen. Sigh... I hope kids AND adults start getting out more.


October 11, 2006 6:56 AM  
Anonymous Coll said...

I still like to play outside and do it every chance I get. :-)

October 11, 2006 8:57 AM  
Blogger JBlue said...

I make my two go outside everyday. It's good for them, and it's good for me. It's great for the poor cat.

October 12, 2006 5:04 PM  

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