“Ahhh!”, the boy exclaimed as he plopped onto the worn wooden bench. “I’m so relaxed!” The other kids on our short walk felt the same way. Outdoor school, we had followed a trail to a small park that usually sits unnoticed and unused. Once there, the kids smiled more easily and listened contentedly to the sounds of nature all around us.
Helping kids feel better in mind and body is not the only reason a Green Schoolyards movement is sweeping the U.S. The main idea—especially during the time of COVID-19—is to create more usable space at school rather than to cut back on the time students spend there.
Schools weren’t built to keep learners six feet apart. In fact, most schools can only accommodate 60% of students safely spaced within the school building, according to the National Council on School Facilities and Cooperative Strategies.
But what about on school grounds? Not just playgrounds, but
the space out front, out back, and along each side. Many schools have public
parkland directly adjacent.
Top TED talker Brene Brown nailed it at the Mom2Summit when she declared: “I’ve never done anything that was worth much unless I was scared shitless and nauseous.”
That’s exactly how I felt stepping onto the red circle at TEDx Tysons in Tysons, Virginia. But as I delivered “Durable Humans are Smarter Than Their Phones,” I was uplifted by the inspiration of a host of brilliant people I want to thank here.
Copious credit goes to Hilarie Cash, co-founder of ReStart, the nation’s first Internet addiction treatment center. Hilarie invited me in to meet people like “Jeff,” the young tech addict whose heartbreaking yet hopeful story you can read about here.
ReStart’s track record proves that simple things like cooking dinner and mopping the floor can help young people break the stranglehold of addiction and return to success in real life. By creating and sustaining Attachment, Hilarie told me in this interview, parents can help kids Continue reading
Parents want to raise well-rounded kids who are comfortable in their own skin and with navigating in the natural and digital worlds. These advice books help parents and other care-givers to achieve that goal or to care for themselves in the process.
The sensible guide to raising digital citizens we’ve all been waiting for, Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World finally gets how kids use technology and how parents can support their efforts.
Author Devorah Heitner is thoroughly respectful of both sides of the equation and never talks down to, judges, or belittles anyone. Her book is chock-full of practical use-‘em-now tips and she gently instructs and builds the confidence of kids’ first and best digital mentors: their parents. This book doesn’t just skim the surface, it gets gritty and granular, supplying the words and tools we all need.
Among Heitner’s most important points:
- Choose mentoring your child over simply monitoring what they do online.
- Have clear, consistent boundaries and explain them to your kids.
- Pay attention when your kids need you, or as Heitner says, “Be here now.” Why that’s absolutely crucial.
Another must-read, Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children supplements Screenwise by Continue reading
Not far from downtown Washington, D.C., kids perch on tree branches, dig in the sand, and busily port sticks from one place to another. An adult rests on a swinging bench while someone else sniffs a drift of coriander. This is Constitution Gardens, a different kind of park.
It all started with a competition. The city council of Gaithersburg, Maryland wanted to enliven a sliver of public land that had devolved over the years into a dull, little-used cut-through. The renovation should reflect the many new cultures that now infuse the locale. The new park would be an antidote for what Last Child In The Woods author Richard Louv calls “nature deficit disorder,” a malaise that settles over children when they don’t have enough time outside. Continue reading