5 Reasons to Make Outdoor Time a “Back-to-School” Priority


It has been incredibly hot in the 505 lately. And I don’t know about you, but my kids and I don’t get outside in the heat of the afternoon. We focus on getting our outdoor time first thing after breakfast and again in the evenings when it’s cooler.

But with school starting, I’m rethinking my “back to school” schedule. How can I maintain outdoor time when it’s scheduled at the same time that I’ll be taking my son to school?

5 Ways to Prioritize Outdoor Time During the School Year | Albuquerque Moms BlogBefore we get into the nitty-gritty of planning, I want to discuss a few reasons why it’s so important to prioritize outdoor time for our children.

5 Reasons to Make Outdoor Time a Priority

  1. American kids spend, on average, 7 hours a day on screens and 7 minutes outside playing.
  2. Research shows that nature boosts children’s critical thinking skills. (Ernst & Monroe, 2004).
  3. Research shows that nature increases student academic performance. (Bartosh, 2003; Wu et al., 2014).
  4. Research shows that nature decreases symptoms related with ADHD. (Amoly et al., 2014).
  5. Research shows that nature can make your child more self-disciplined. (Faber Taylor et al., 2002)

Children around the world are migrating indoors. Kids spend more time than ever on screens and schools are cutting recess. But the scientific research is clear, nature is GOOD for our kids. It makes them happier, healthier, and even smarter.

Knowing that we can’t rely on the school system to maintain outdoor play time for our children, how do we prioritize getting them outside?

5 Ways to Prioritize Outdoor Time During the School Year

  1. Walk to school with your child.
  2. Get to school 10 minutes early so they can play on the playground before the bell rings.
  3. Allow your child to play on the playground for 10 minutes after school.
  4. Eat dinner as a family outside when the weather is nice.
  5. Set aside 1 hour each week do to a nature activity with your child. Get ideas here!

What strategies do you use to maintain outdoor time amidst the craziness of school year schedules?

Amoly, E., Dadvand, P., Lopez-vicente, M., Basagana, V., Julvez, J., Alvarez-Pedrerol, M., Nieuwenhuijsen, M.J., Sunyer, J. (2014). Green and blue spaces and behavioral development in Barcelona schoolchildren: the BREATHE Project. Environmental Health Perspectives. 122(12):1351-1358.
Bartosh, Oksana. (2003). Environmental Education: Improving Student Achievement. Evergreen State College.
Ernst, J, & Monroe, M. (2004.) The effects of environment-based education on students’ critical thinking skills and disposition toward critical thinking. Environmental Education Research. 10(4): 507-522.
Faber Taylor, A., Kuo, F.E., Sullivan, W.C. (2002). Views of nature and self-discipline: evidence from inner city children. Journal of Environmental Psychology. 22:49-63.
Wu, C-D., McNeely, E., Cedeno-Laurent, J., Pan, W-C., Adamkiewicz, G., Dominici, F., Lung, S-C. C., Su, H-J., Spengler, J.D. (2014). Linking student performance in Massachusetts elementary schools with the “greenness” of school surroundings using remote sensing. PloS One. 9(10): 1-9.