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Blog Post: The Great Outdoors

Why having kids play outside is good for them--and you.

By Sarah Hamaker

Q: With the colder temperatures, I’m having a hard time getting the kids to play outside. Frankly, even when the weather is nice, like it sometimes is even in winter, my son and daughter whine about going outside. We live on a quiet street and have a nice playground in the backyard. No amount of begging will get them out the door.

A: My kids spill out of the bus, hot, sweaty, and antsy after a day spent in the classroom with only a brief period for recess. And yet if I suggest playing outside, I’m greeted with groans of disapproval.

With recent studies showing that seven in 10 children in the United States are not getting enough vitamin D, it’s important for kids to play outside. (One key way children absorb vitamin D is through exposure to sunlight.) In our house, as long as the weather isn’t too brutal, I kick the kids outside for at least a half hour.

Not that they want to go out, but I just shoo them out and let them set the kitchen timer for 30 minutes before they can come inside. Most of the time, they find something to do. Occasionally, they sit on the front steps reading a book. In the warmer months, I’ve been known to keep them outside until dinner time.

If you need more convincing about why outside is best, read The Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv. This excellent book details how the outdoors is good for children of all ages.

Do you have a parenting question you would like to see answered on this blog? Email Sarah with Parenting Question in the subject line. Sign up for Practical Parenting, Sarah’s a free, monthly e-newsletter with commonsense advice on child rearing, by visiting www.parentcoachnova.com and clicking on the newsletter tab.

Sarah Hamaker is a certified Leadership Parenting Coach™ through the Rosemond Leadership Parenting Coach Institute. She’s also a freelance writer and editor. Sarah lives in Fairfax, Va., with her husband and four children. Visit her online at www.parentcoachnova.com and follow her on Twitter @novaparentcoach.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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