Discover the Best Nature Play Spaces near Washington, D.C.

Did you know elementary-aged kids have about half the core strength kids had only a decade ago? Overall creativity has also taken a hit. The way we use technology gives us more reasons than ever to sit down. Like us, kids don’t move around as much and have less free time to use their imaginations. What’s the solution for more healthy and durable young bodies and minds? Plenty of free play outdoors in the sunshine and breeze!

For year-round adventure, these amazing parks in the Washington, D.C. area don’t have swings, slides, or other typical playground equipment, but guarantee a healthy whole-child workout.

Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, VA is a gorgeous destination for the whole family whereamid hundreds of ornamental and native plants and the occasional nosy goosethere’s a garden just for kids, perfect for little ones to touch and smell the herbs and flowers, stow away in hidden spaces, and host imaginary tea parties.

Hidden Oaks Nature Center in Annandale, VA features Nature Playce, a free-play utopia where kids use hay bales, sticks, and rounds of wood to build forts and castles they can knock right down when they are finished if they want to. Here, kids use all their muscle groups and build skills they can’t in the classroom.

Constitution Gardens Park in Gaithersburg, MD is a completely accessible urban hideaway with tons of sand, a water play area, and whimsical structures to climb, all made from local sycamore wood. Kids of all ages have plenty of space to explore and move to their own playtime agenda.

Where’s a nature play space where you live?

For more ideas on helping your whole family to be healthy and balanced, sign up for Durable Human News and read How To Be a Durable Human: Revive and Thrive in the Digital Age Through the Power of Self-Design.

This post was written by Jenifer Joy Madden, tech hygienist, digital journalism professor, and author of the practical handbook for living in harmony with technology: How To Be a Durable Human: Revive and Thrive in the Digital Age Through the Power of Self-Design.

Gifts That Help Kids To Be More Durable

Girl with backpack cycles to school

Digital devices can be so helpful and entertaining it’s easy to forget what they don’t do to help kids grow up to be self-reliant, durable adults. In fact, many tech-savvy school kids are doing strange things like losing their balance on chairs, bumping into other kids in the hallways, and bursting into tears at the drop of a hat. Occupational therapy researcher Angela Hanscom, author of Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children, also reports that core strength among children has plummeted. A big reason? They just don’t get enough rough and tumble.

These non-tech gifts supplement kids’ digital pursuits: Continue reading

Fighting Tech with Tech: Online Tool Helps Families Reclaim Time

Kids enjoy sunny day lying on dock

If digital gadgets and games are being designed to attract and hold kids’ attention, American pediatricians are pushing back with their own design.

“The goal is to give parents, and everybody really, a visual of how a child’s day maps out and we can really understand what affects the balance in their lives and what you need to do to have a balanced lifestyle,” says Corinn Cross, MD, FAPP, who came up with the idea for the Media Time Calculator, a major piece of the American Academy of Pediatrics new Family Media Plan.

Parents and kids can sit down together and use the calculator to ensure a 24-hour day includes not only screen time, but everything else a child needs to be healthy, balanced, and durable.  

Cross hopes the tool will help families make time decisions based on their own needs and priorities. “We don’t want media use to be the driving force, but just to fill in gaps.”

In the Media Time Calculator, the recommended times for sleep and physical activity are set by default according to a child’s age. You can see in this 3-minute demo how time available for screen-based entertainment quickly disappears:

I define durable human design as “the making and doing of things that promote and advance one’s ability to be an effective, contributing human in a complex and increasingly digital world,” so the Media Time Calculator certainly qualifies.

Get a free 1-page printable Time Priorities checklist to help you help your family spend time wisely.

To design your life so you and your family live in balance and harmony with technology (and everything else), read How To Be a Durable Human: Revive and Thrive in the Digital Age Through the Power of Self-Design.

Learn more about this author on Google+

Pediatricians Take Surprising Stand on Kids and Screens

Two teenagers on cellphones

At long last, the American Academy of Pediatrics has revised its ideas for how kids should interact with screens. There are some surprises, especially that the guidelines cover much more than media.

Babies and little, little kids are still not supposed to watch any screen-based content, with one exception: Continue reading

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