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Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children

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In this important book, a pediatric occupational therapist and founder of TimberNook shows how outdoor play and unstructured freedom of movement are vital for children’s cognitive development and growth, and offers tons of fun, engaging ways to help ensure that kids grow into healthy, balanced, and resilient adults. Today’s kids have adopted sedentary lifestyles filled wit In this important book, a pediatric occupational therapist and founder of TimberNook shows how outdoor play and unstructured freedom of movement are vital for children’s cognitive development and growth, and offers tons of fun, engaging ways to help ensure that kids grow into healthy, balanced, and resilient adults. Today’s kids have adopted sedentary lifestyles filled with television, video games, and computer screens. But more and more, studies show that children need “rough and tumble” outdoor play in order to develop their sensory, motor, and executive functions. Disturbingly, a lack of movement has been shown to lead to a number of health and cognitive difficulties, such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), emotion regulation and sensory processing issues, and aggressiveness at school recess break. So, how can you ensure your child is fully engaging their body, mind, and all of their senses? Using the same philosophy that lies at the heart of her popular TimberNook program—that nature is the ultimate sensory experience, and that psychological and physical health improves for children when they spend time outside on a regular basis—author Angela Hanscom offers several strategies to help your child thrive, even if you live in an urban environment. Today it is rare to find children rolling down hills, climbing trees, or spinning in circles just for fun. We’ve taken away merry-go-rounds, shortened the length of swings, and done away with teeter-totters to keep children safe. Children have fewer opportunities for unstructured outdoor play than ever before, and recess times at school are shrinking due to demanding educational environments. With this book, you’ll discover little things you can do anytime, anywhere to help your kids achieve the movement they need to be happy and healthy in mind, body, and spirit.


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In this important book, a pediatric occupational therapist and founder of TimberNook shows how outdoor play and unstructured freedom of movement are vital for children’s cognitive development and growth, and offers tons of fun, engaging ways to help ensure that kids grow into healthy, balanced, and resilient adults. Today’s kids have adopted sedentary lifestyles filled wit In this important book, a pediatric occupational therapist and founder of TimberNook shows how outdoor play and unstructured freedom of movement are vital for children’s cognitive development and growth, and offers tons of fun, engaging ways to help ensure that kids grow into healthy, balanced, and resilient adults. Today’s kids have adopted sedentary lifestyles filled with television, video games, and computer screens. But more and more, studies show that children need “rough and tumble” outdoor play in order to develop their sensory, motor, and executive functions. Disturbingly, a lack of movement has been shown to lead to a number of health and cognitive difficulties, such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), emotion regulation and sensory processing issues, and aggressiveness at school recess break. So, how can you ensure your child is fully engaging their body, mind, and all of their senses? Using the same philosophy that lies at the heart of her popular TimberNook program—that nature is the ultimate sensory experience, and that psychological and physical health improves for children when they spend time outside on a regular basis—author Angela Hanscom offers several strategies to help your child thrive, even if you live in an urban environment. Today it is rare to find children rolling down hills, climbing trees, or spinning in circles just for fun. We’ve taken away merry-go-rounds, shortened the length of swings, and done away with teeter-totters to keep children safe. Children have fewer opportunities for unstructured outdoor play than ever before, and recess times at school are shrinking due to demanding educational environments. With this book, you’ll discover little things you can do anytime, anywhere to help your kids achieve the movement they need to be happy and healthy in mind, body, and spirit.

30 review for Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children

  1. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    I'll be honest here and say that I skimmed a lot of this book, not because it wasn't informative but because they were preaching to the choir. I agree, children should move more. I am not surprised by all the supporting evidence laid out in this book. I think I was looking for more information on how to make it happen.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jill

    This is the book I want to give all parents no matter how old their children are. This is the book I want all teachers and grandparents and anyone who has influence in a child to add to their nightstand. An pediatric occupational therapist, the author argues for and explains the benefits of unstructured, child-directed outdoor play for children. Why are merry-go-rounds essential playground equipment and night games unstructured by adults the best for children with sensory issues? And steep slides This is the book I want to give all parents no matter how old their children are. This is the book I want all teachers and grandparents and anyone who has influence in a child to add to their nightstand. An pediatric occupational therapist, the author argues for and explains the benefits of unstructured, child-directed outdoor play for children. Why are merry-go-rounds essential playground equipment and night games unstructured by adults the best for children with sensory issues? And steep slides? And swings with long chains? She details the physiology of it all. Why are children struggling to sit still or stay in their chairs or maintain attention? What about coping with setbacks or falls or social hierarchies? Where are these skills best developed? Why are kids sick so often? How has childhood changed in the last 20 years? How much time should children be spending outdoors each day? What are useful activities for toddlers, infants, elementary and older ages? It's here. I borrowed a copy from the library but find myself continually thinking about what I read in a hurry to absorb it all, and now want to read it again slowly making notes as I go. Find a copy. Your playground, outdoor and after-school hours will be the influenced for the better - even if they are already wonderful.)

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lady Heather

    This was a fascinating and educational read. I agree that children spend far too much time indoors doing various things such as playing video games, playing on their phones or watching T.V. and that it has had an effect on how the brain now learns and deciphers information. I also agree that children need to spend more time outside doing physical activity to stimulate muscles, to work on developing their fine motor and gross motor skills, get cardiovascular exercise, and release endorphins into th This was a fascinating and educational read. I agree that children spend far too much time indoors doing various things such as playing video games, playing on their phones or watching T.V. and that it has had an effect on how the brain now learns and deciphers information. I also agree that children need to spend more time outside doing physical activity to stimulate muscles, to work on developing their fine motor and gross motor skills, get cardiovascular exercise, and release endorphins into their bodies. And I do also agree that being outside and "getting fresh air" is extremely important in developing a healthy mind, spirit and body. But, there has to be a balance with everything. I don't think that being outside will eliminate or cure a child who has behaviour issues, but it will certainly help. This was an interesting perspective and philosophy to read. I learned a lot.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Thompson

    The overall premise of this book is essentially throwing out every possible reason why children should play outside, in nature. I'm certainly a proponent of outdoor nature play and my own child gets plenty of it, but this book does contain some flaws. The author, a pediatric occupational therapist, shares numerous reasons why a lack of outdoor play is essentially causing all sorts of problems in children. I have no doubt this is true to some extent, but she seems to conveniently leave out other The overall premise of this book is essentially throwing out every possible reason why children should play outside, in nature. I'm certainly a proponent of outdoor nature play and my own child gets plenty of it, but this book does contain some flaws. The author, a pediatric occupational therapist, shares numerous reasons why a lack of outdoor play is essentially causing all sorts of problems in children. I have no doubt this is true to some extent, but she seems to conveniently leave out other potential factors for some of these issues, which cover everything from vision problems to sensory issues to poor gross and fine motor skills—even social-emotional skills. While she has research to validate many of these assertions, many also lack anything other than anecdotal evidence, if anything. For example, under vision problems she talks about tracking issues and depth perception troubles, which are things we are addressing with my daughter (strabismus/exotropia), but NO research is referenced to show a link between these types of vision issues and lack of outdoor play (the causes of strabismus, anyway, are as of yet unknown). So while I can get behind many of the ideas, I would read this book with that caveat in mind—fact check first.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Walter Underwood

    Richard Louv's book "Last Child in the Woods" made the case that the outdoors is good for you. Angela Hanson, an occupational therapist, makes the case that we injure and maybe even disable children when we have them spend so much time indoors, on "safe" play equipment, and in supervised pay. We even need new terminology to describe this. Container Baby Syndrome (CBS) describes the problems caused by spending too much time in "baby containers", like child seats, walkers, strollers, and so on. The Richard Louv's book "Last Child in the Woods" made the case that the outdoors is good for you. Angela Hanson, an occupational therapist, makes the case that we injure and maybe even disable children when we have them spend so much time indoors, on "safe" play equipment, and in supervised pay. We even need new terminology to describe this. Container Baby Syndrome (CBS) describes the problems caused by spending too much time in "baby containers", like child seats, walkers, strollers, and so on. These "safe" containers cause flat spots on heads, poor visual/body coordination, low strength, poor vestibular development, poor balance, and more. She tested three classrooms of fifth-graders who had trouble paying attention. They fidgeted, even fell out of their chairs. She tested core strength and balance skills, simple things like spinning in a circle ten times with eyes open, then closed. Compared to the average for children from 1984, only one out of twelve children could meet the expected level! [pages 47 and 48]

  6. 5 out of 5

    Madalyn

    I got a lot more out of this book than I thought I would. When I started reading it there was a lot about problems in the classroom, studies that showed kids needed to move more, input from seasoned teachers, the authors experiences running a camp, and all of that is great. This book is well researched and well reasoned, the author makes her point clearly and concisely, but I didn’t feel like it pertained to me and my child. The Toddler has never been in a classroom, so the problems of school ag I got a lot more out of this book than I thought I would. When I started reading it there was a lot about problems in the classroom, studies that showed kids needed to move more, input from seasoned teachers, the authors experiences running a camp, and all of that is great. This book is well researched and well reasoned, the author makes her point clearly and concisely, but I didn’t feel like it pertained to me and my child. The Toddler has never been in a classroom, so the problems of school age kids, even preschool, seem very far off to me right now. It wasn’t until I got to chapter 8, When Is My Baby Ready For The Outdoors?, that this book really got my attention. Because up till now I’ve never really made outdoor play a priority in our day. I never even really thought about letting her play outside, let alone play outside unsupervised. She’s my baby, why would she ever need to play without me? But after reading Barefoot and Balanced I’m thinking playing outside might be exactly what she needs. I’ve noticed a lot of things since we began packing for our move and one of them is that she depends on me, or whatever adult happens to be at our house, for play, independent play doesn’t really happen, and creative play doesn’t really happen either; a tea set is just a tea set, the play kitchen is just for storage, empty containers are just empty containers. I’m not giving her space to explore and be creative. She is my baby and she does still need me, but she needs to be able to explore the world and her own limits too. At first, I was sitting on the couch reading, going ‘that's not about my parenting, I don’t need to do that’ and I got a little defensive and wanted to quit reading, but I quickly realized that it is about my parenting, and that reading books like this one, accepting the new knowledge and doing better going forward was exactly why books like this are important to read. It’s not about criticizing parents, it’s about learning to be better parents who are better able to meet our kids needs and let them learn skills that will serve them for their whole lives. Personal tangent aside; After getting past the school age kids part at the beginning, Barefoot and Balanced has chapters about what ages kids should be outside at, how to involve kids in outdoor time, how to overcome fears about letting kids play outside (I needed that part!), how to slowly transition to and encourage independent play, and how to get younger kids to be comfortable with less parental involvement. The author also makes a point of saying that it’s still important to play with your kids, play is bonding and will always be important, which made me feel better because I hated the idea of not playing with The Toddler. There is also a large list of recommended reading at the back of the book, and I can’t say I’ll read all of them but it’s something I would like to take a closer look at. There’s a lot of great information in this book, and I found it a great opportunity to grow as a parent, and I’ve decided to make outdoor play more of a priority for both The Toddler and myself. Since being outside is recommended to help manage anxiety I feel like we can both benefit from it. I gave this book 4 out 5 stars, just because the beginning is a bit preachy, when it comes to schools and recess, and things like that. This was a very informative read, and it’s encouraged me to look more into my parenting and things I could be doing differently. I’ve got a couple of books that are about the Charlotte Mason method that I bought a few months ago but never read, so those will be coming up soon! Okay, it’s been a couple of months since I wrote this review and I wanted to come in a update it. Since reading Barefoot and Balanced I have made an intentional effort to make outside time a regular part of our day. Nearly everyday we go outside after naptime. The Toddler plays in the yard while I read a book on the porch, and I have to say it’s probably the favorite part of our day for both of us. It’s relaxing for me and an energy burner for The Toddler. She sleeps better, she plays better, and she’s more independent. If you have children of any age I strongly recommend this book. It’s been a good thing for both me and The Toddler. I received this book free through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Wendy Bunnell

    You can agree with the author of a non-fiction book and still be bored. The content was fine, but seemed padded out to make it book length. I'll try to cull out some interesting items: * The author has an interesting approach to sun screen. Let's just say, she's not huge for it. * Modern playground equipment is boring as all heck, and hardly worth playing on. Yes, I agree. * But, modern playground equipment tries to compensate for its colossal boringness with brash loud colors. This is terrible, as You can agree with the author of a non-fiction book and still be bored. The content was fine, but seemed padded out to make it book length. I'll try to cull out some interesting items: * The author has an interesting approach to sun screen. Let's just say, she's not huge for it. * Modern playground equipment is boring as all heck, and hardly worth playing on. Yes, I agree. * But, modern playground equipment tries to compensate for its colossal boringness with brash loud colors. This is terrible, as it stresses people out and overstimulates your brain while still boring you with a swing that only has 4 feet of chain instead of the 8 we had back in the 70s. No-one can do a proper "underdog" anymore, and kids are worse for it. * The author seems overly found of mud. Hey, I like mud, but it really isn't for my kid with cystic fibrosis as standing water is lousy with pseudomona, not good. But otherwise I'm all for playing outside unstructured. * American overly litigious society is stupid. Yes, I agree. Suing schools for having playgrounds is dumb. Suing municipalities for having playgrounds = also stupid. Everyone is trying to win the injury lottery. * This advice isn't particularly helpful for parents of special needs kids. Oh well, such is life. There, I saved you a couple of hours.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Liz De Coster

    I found some of Hanscom's arguments more compelling than others, there were a few sources that I didn't find particularly credible or were subject to a lot of interpretation (newspaper articles, blogs, etc.) I find her overall argument(s) plausible, but I also tend to be skeptical of the "this one weird trick can fix your kids" advice, so this book was in a weird middle ground where I wanted to listen but I didn't find the book persuasive. Also, I wanted like 20% more practical advice (like spinn I found some of Hanscom's arguments more compelling than others, there were a few sources that I didn't find particularly credible or were subject to a lot of interpretation (newspaper articles, blogs, etc.) I find her overall argument(s) plausible, but I also tend to be skeptical of the "this one weird trick can fix your kids" advice, so this book was in a weird middle ground where I wanted to listen but I didn't find the book persuasive. Also, I wanted like 20% more practical advice (like spinning on swings, or how to encourage kids to try to carry heavy stuff). We're a family with two working parents; the idea that we have hours a day to let our kid play outside felt pretty out-of-touch.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    Maybe she has read CM. She agrees with her that children should have plenty of time to play outside free of adult intervention. Children just need time to play and to play deep. As most children do not get to play like this now days as they are inside sitting in school and don't get enough recess or on screens-we have seen this has impacted them in many ways. While I agree they need more play she only briefly mentions nutrition, emotional, support that children also need. Insightful reading.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Danielle DeVane Wells

    Good information for every parent to know about how playtime outdoors is beneficial for kids!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Angelina Gearke

    Every person who cares for a child should read this inspiring and practical book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    KieraK

    This is the essential science behind Free Forest School. After reading it, I will be kicking my kids outside by themselves even more. There is one study that says if you are outside for at least 14 hours per week, then young eyes have more of a chance to fight myopia. I don’t think its a cure all, some are destined for it, but perhaps if one can help a child have better eyes for longer, then why not. And I have literally seen a lot of this books contents in action every Tuesday with FFS so it wa This is the essential science behind Free Forest School. After reading it, I will be kicking my kids outside by themselves even more. There is one study that says if you are outside for at least 14 hours per week, then young eyes have more of a chance to fight myopia. I don’t think its a cure all, some are destined for it, but perhaps if one can help a child have better eyes for longer, then why not. And I have literally seen a lot of this books contents in action every Tuesday with FFS so it was good to see the evidence behind what we do.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Corneliu Dascalu

    A bit repetitive, but the basic ideas are sound. The importance of children spending time outdoors is generally accepted. The author explains why time in nature, independent play and risk taking are essential for children's mental and physical development, based on her own experience and numerous studies she cites throughout the book.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Anna Trahan

    This was a helpful book that helped to explain the importance of movement in a child’s development. The author explains the importance of letting children take risks with physical movement, develop resilience and imagination by playing independently without adult guidance, and most importantly letting kids be bored. It has inspired me to incorporate more movement activities/breaks into my therapy sessions. There were a lot of practical suggestions for people who live in the country or suburbs, b This was a helpful book that helped to explain the importance of movement in a child’s development. The author explains the importance of letting children take risks with physical movement, develop resilience and imagination by playing independently without adult guidance, and most importantly letting kids be bored. It has inspired me to incorporate more movement activities/breaks into my therapy sessions. There were a lot of practical suggestions for people who live in the country or suburbs, but I’m not sure how families who live in more urban areas would be able to incorporate these ideas. By the last few chapters, the ideas for outdoor play were getting repetitive, but on the whole a good book. This is a book I would want to read again when I have kids of my own.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Gina

    I had been wanting to read this book since it was published and was so excited to find it at our library. This is a topic I'm passionate about so I was eager to get started. Hanscom makes many valid points and provides plenty of research to back up her philosophy. I was disappointed, however, because, having read numerous books and articles on the value of outdoor free play, I felt there was nothing new presented. I would recommend this book to parents and educators who are just discovering the I had been wanting to read this book since it was published and was so excited to find it at our library. This is a topic I'm passionate about so I was eager to get started. Hanscom makes many valid points and provides plenty of research to back up her philosophy. I was disappointed, however, because, having read numerous books and articles on the value of outdoor free play, I felt there was nothing new presented. I would recommend this book to parents and educators who are just discovering the benefits of playing outside; it's a good beginning.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kirby

    I agree very much with her assertion that kids need as much outside free play as possible, but I feel like she spent way too much time trying to convince me. I would guess that most people who pick up this book are already convinced. I was hoping for practical advice for city and apartment dwellers and there wasn't much. I did come away with a couple ideas so it wasn't a waste to read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Teo 2050

    2020.06.17–2020.06.17 Contents Hanscom AJ (2016) (06:27) Balanced and Barefoot - How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children Foreword (Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, The Nature Principle, and Vitamin N) Introduction • How Playing in Nature Contributes to Healthy Children • What This Book Can Do for You 1. Why Can’t My Child Sit Still? • Does My Child Need Therapy? • Why Can’t My Child Pay Attention? • Why Can’t My Child Physically Keep Up? • • Poor Post 2020.06.17–2020.06.17 Contents Hanscom AJ (2016) (06:27) Balanced and Barefoot - How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children Foreword (Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, The Nature Principle, and Vitamin N) Introduction • How Playing in Nature Contributes to Healthy Children • What This Book Can Do for You 1. Why Can’t My Child Sit Still? • Does My Child Need Therapy? • Why Can’t My Child Pay Attention? • Why Can’t My Child Physically Keep Up? • • Poor Posture Is the New Norm • • Decreased Stamina • • Frail Like Your Grandmother’s Fine China • Why Does My Child Fall So Often? • Why Does My Child Have an Endless Cold? • Why Is My Child So Aggressive? • Why Does My Child Have Difficulty Reading? • Why Is My Child So Emotional? • • Trouble with Emotional Control • • Rise in Anxiety • Why Doesn’t My Child Like to Play? • In a Nutshell 2. The Body and the Senses • The Body • • Gross Motor Skills • • • The Importance of Building Strength • • • Core Strength • • • Upper Body Strength • • • Endurance • • • Postural Control • • • Gross Motor Coordination • • Fine Motor Skills • • • Fine Motor Strength • • • Fine Motor Coordination • The Senses • • Touch • • Proprioception • • Vestibular Sense • • Sight • • Listening • • Taste and Smell • • What Is Sensory Integration? • The Mind • • Social-Emotional Skills • • Cognitive Skills • In a Nutshell 3. From Restricted Movement to Active Free Play • The Effects of Daily Restrictions on Movement • • Beware of the Baby Devices! • • The “Sit Still” Mandate • • Screen Time Is Taking Over • • Overscheduled and Overwhelmed • Active Free Play • • Give the Gift of Free Play to Your Child • • The Right Kind of Movement • • Active Play Builds Strong Muscles and Bones • • The Benefits of Heavy Work • • The Benefits of Spinning • • Strengthening the Immune System • How Much Active Play Is Enough? • Specific Tips for Fostering Strong and Capable Kids • In a Nutshell 4. The Therapeutic Value of Outdoor Play • Why Outdoors? • • The Outdoors Offers a Perfectly Balanced Sensory Experience • • The Outdoors Inspires the Mind • • The Outdoors Offers Risk and Challenge • How Is Nature Therapeutic? • • Nature is Calming • • Nature Improves the Visual Sense • • • Simply Looking at Nature Impacts Children • • • Play Outdoors Improves Eye Function • • Nature Fosters Listening • • Nature Enhances the Sense of Touch • • • Hygiene Hypothesis • • • Going Barefoot • • Nature Enhances the Sense of Taste and Smell • • Outdoor Experiences that Engage the Senses • • • Promote Barefoot Babes • • • Go Fruit or Berry Picking • • • Garden with Children • • • Go Birding • • • Play in the Dark • • • Interact with Animals • • • Play at the Beach • • • Encourage Tree Climbing • • • Cook Over an Open Fire • • • Immerse Your Child in Nature • In a Nutshell 5. “Safety First” Equals Child Development Later • What Adult-Driven Safety Looks Like • • Constant Supervision • • Fear of Strangers • • Right to Roam • • Fear of Injuries • • An Abundance of Rules • What Child-Driven Play Looks Like • • Children Know What They Need • • Children Were Born to Take Risks • • Children Take Pride in Independent Play Experiences • • Taking Physical Risks Improves Safety Awareness • Common Sense Safety in the Outdoors • In a Nutshell 6. What’s Wrong with the Playgrounds and Indoor Play Spaces of Today? • The Playground Dilemma • • Playgrounds of the Past • • Rise of the Regulations • • Change in Playground Equipment • • • Merry-Go-Rounds • • • Swings and Slides • • • Jungle Gyms • • • Teeter-Totters • • What to Look for in a Good Playground • • • Natural Components • • • Space to Move • • • Easy on the Colors • • • Simple but Challenging Equipment • Indoor Play Spaces • In a Nutshell 7. Rethinking Recess and the Classroom • Rethinking Recess • • Recess Can Make Your Child a Better Student • • Ways to Make Recess a Play Experience • • • Extend the Time • • • Fewer Rules • • • Loose Parts • • • Free to Get Dirty • Rethinking the Classroom • • Keep Things Visually Simple • • Get Moving in a Meaningful Way • • • Sit and Attend for Brief Periods of Time • • • Change Positions Often • • • Think Beyond the Chair • • • Get Up and Dance • • • Project-Based Learning Experiences • • Nature in the Classroom • • Bringing the Classroom Outdoors • Rethinking Day Care • • Spend Most of Your Time Outdoors • • Consider a Multiage Approach • • Use the Environment • • Offer Loose Parts • • Encourage Risk Taking • In a Nutshell 8. When Is My Baby Ready for the Outdoors? • Newborns in Nature (Zero to Six Months) • • Taking Walks Outdoors • • • Leaving the Containers Behind • • • Sensations from Being Carried • • Stepping Outdoors Ignites the Senses • • Time Outdoors Calms Babies • • “Floor Time” Outdoors • • Ways to Get Infants Outdoors • Babies in Nature (Seven to Twelve Months) • • Play Outdoors Develops Competence • • • Uneven Terrain Challenges Growing Infants • • • Laying the Foundation for Language and Memories • • Ways to Get Older Babies and Toddlers Outdoors • A Little Less No, A Little More Yes • In a Nutshell 9. Getting Children to Play Creatively and Independently Outdoors • Overcoming Barriers to Independent Play • • Overcoming Fear • • Moving Beyond Boredom • Ways to Encourage Independent and Creative Play • • Giving Children Space • • • The Backyard • • • The Park • • • The Streets • • • The Woods • • Giving Children Time • • Bringing Friends into the Picture • • Using the Environment as Inspiration • • • Loose Parts • • Providing Simplicity • In a Nutshell Acknowledgments Recommended Reading References Index

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kelcey Murdoch

    I loved this book both from a professional standpoint and from how I want to parent. I strongly agree that there are so many benefits from kids engaging in unstructured play, especially in nature.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Nex Juice

    I really enjoyed this book. It's about the positive impact playing outside has on children (with tips on how to maximize the benefits - and the fun!) Issues are on the rise for behavioral and emotional management, sensory integration and development, decreasing physical strength, and more instances of ADD and ADHD. So much learning and development happens by moving. This author says lectures should be about 10 minutes, then movement and hands-on activities can be used to solidify the lesson. She I really enjoyed this book. It's about the positive impact playing outside has on children (with tips on how to maximize the benefits - and the fun!) Issues are on the rise for behavioral and emotional management, sensory integration and development, decreasing physical strength, and more instances of ADD and ADHD. So much learning and development happens by moving. This author says lectures should be about 10 minutes, then movement and hands-on activities can be used to solidify the lesson. She dives into the vestibular and proprioception systems, and touches on cognitive, social, and emotional function. Nature offers a great balance of sensory input without overwhelming our senses. Freedom, safety, and support spur creativity. As I read it, I realized that ADULTS can benefit from playing outside more, too! When's the last time you played a sport outside? Climbed a tree? Built sand castles? All of these experiences with nature provide an amazing sensory experience that helps to keep our bodies strong and flexible. It helps us regulate our emotions, promotes creativity and adventure, and it helps us to focus. It's beneficial to do with other people, too, as we develop our social skills and emotional intelligence. I found it fascinating how outdoor play is used as a form of therapy for kids. Maybe I can incorporate it into my therapy practice in the future! With adults!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    Once I got past the feelings of immense guilt and regret, I was able to absorb some helpful takeaways. This is a great book for parents of babies, toddlers and preschoolers, but still a nice enough reminder of the importance of nature-based free play for older children (and parents of older children!). I skimmed the early part of the book with the list of all that’s wrong with children and parenting in our modern society, I’ve read plenty about that. This book has good basic info on sensory diso Once I got past the feelings of immense guilt and regret, I was able to absorb some helpful takeaways. This is a great book for parents of babies, toddlers and preschoolers, but still a nice enough reminder of the importance of nature-based free play for older children (and parents of older children!). I skimmed the early part of the book with the list of all that’s wrong with children and parenting in our modern society, I’ve read plenty about that. This book has good basic info on sensory disorders, which I am also well-versed in. I have no idea how I can offer my children 3-4-5 hours of free outdoor play each day, but I will be throwing them out of the house more often in the summer months with this book on my mind.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tera

    I agree that children do not spend enough time outside or in independent play, but the examples and suggestions in this book are unrealistic. I would love for my children to build forts in the forest, walk barefoot along moss-covered logs, and spend 5-8 hours A DAY outside, but I live in a suburb in the desert.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Well written case for the outdoors and free range kids written by an occupational therapist.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lynsey

    This was a good reminder to let. My. Kids. Play. Outside! I need to be better about letting them do their own thing and going outside more.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Yvonne Reynders

    An insightful read. The information presented in this book got me thinking more about the differing sensory needs of children.

  25. 5 out of 5

    J.E. Raley

    LOVED this read. The first fully comprehensive read I've found that delves into the research, especially from a medical/therapist setting to really dig into the profound impact nature has on children's physical and mental health. Got me excited to put more things into practice but broke my heart that US education has swung so far in the opposite direction of truly encouraging children to be children and PLAY.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Adrian

    It was a very straightforward approach towards encouraging children to pursue outdoor play.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly

    The premise of the book is great, but the execution is less than. If I could choose, this book would have maybe 1/5 about the benefit of outdoor play and the rest would be tangible ideas that a typical family can implement: lots of material about how to foster creative outdoor play with simple materials in your own yard for different ages (this would comprise several chapters and the bulk of the book), plus how to use the green spaces & playgrounds around you, how to evaluate camps/schools/child The premise of the book is great, but the execution is less than. If I could choose, this book would have maybe 1/5 about the benefit of outdoor play and the rest would be tangible ideas that a typical family can implement: lots of material about how to foster creative outdoor play with simple materials in your own yard for different ages (this would comprise several chapters and the bulk of the book), plus how to use the green spaces & playgrounds around you, how to evaluate camps/schools/child care options with outdoor nature play in mind, etc. Instead, this book felt really preachy at times and while I agree that there are far-reaching benefits to unstructured outdoor play, I felt like rolling my eyes at times when it went through a long laundry list of everything that will be magically fixed if you just let you kids play outside. The chapter(s) about how schools should have more recess and the kids should be freer to choose how they play were too long considering most people can't control this. (I listened to this as an audiobook so sections/chapters aren't really clear in my mind.) It felt like almost every chapter repeated all of the horrible things that happen to kids when they don't get to play outside and how playing outside will solve practically every problem known to modern families. I'm sounding a little to flippant about this considering I really do agree with the basic premise, the presentation just irked me. But props to the author nonetheless for making it happen. I'm sure if I were to write a book it would be far from perfect. If you're interested in this topic, there's a concise 30-min podcast episode on the podcast 3-in-30 Takeaways for Moms with this author as the guest: Episode 128: How to get your kids to play outside & why it matters.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Khuey40

    hanging upside down and spinning helps with vestibular regulation--of course!!!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Whole And

    If you are coming across the concept of outdoor play and its importance for the first time, you may find this book interesting. However, if you already know and have done the reading and research, this is not the book for you. I found this book a light summary of current information out there about the importance of outdoor play and not particularly insightful. I found many contradictions in the book such as noting the importance of unsupervised play but the author's programming has rules about If you are coming across the concept of outdoor play and its importance for the first time, you may find this book interesting. However, if you already know and have done the reading and research, this is not the book for you. I found this book a light summary of current information out there about the importance of outdoor play and not particularly insightful. I found many contradictions in the book such as noting the importance of unsupervised play but the author's programming has rules about being within sight. Rather lacking in the deep, rich connections offered by many many other meaningful books out there on the same subject matter. Peter Gray's "Free To Learn" comes to mind as I finished up that glorious book....review to come.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sheila

    This book is great! It is a clear and concise explanation of the benefits of free outdoor play for children of all ages. The author lays out the sensory benefits of outdoor play and how sitting for long hours is extremely hard on all bodies, but especially on young bodies. I recommend this book for anyone who has kids or works with kids.

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