A young girl splashing about in a muddy puddle.

Free the kids

Free The Kids

With pressures of modern life like increasing time constraints, shrinking roaming spaces and technology, children are missing out on a vital aspect of their development: play. As a matter of fact, OMO’s [Skip’s] global research (study of 12,000 parents) showed that children’s playtime is dramatically declining! The most worrying part is the fact that the majority of children are now spending as little time outdoors as prison inmates.

Even though experts agree that there are multiple and wide-ranging benefits associated with children’s use of technology, ‘screen time’ is perceived to be a key barrier to getting kids outdoors. Nearly eight out of ten parents (78 per cent) admit that their children often refuse to play without some form of technology being involved.

To draw attention to this, OMO [SKIP] created Free the Kids, a thought-provoking film that starkly illustrates the current imbalance in play. Filmed in a maximum security prison in Wabash, Indiana, Director Toby Dye spoke to prison inmates about what their outdoors time meant to them. Meanwhile, leading expert in education, creativity and human development Sir Ken Robinson partnered with OMO [SKIP] to chair the Dirt is Good Child Development Advisory Board and inspire conversation around the importance of getting children outdoors and experiencing more real play in their lives.

 

What is Outdoor Classroom Day?

Outdoor Classroom Day is a global campaign to celebrate and inspire outdoor play at schools! Even though parents and teachers understand the importance of spending time outdoors, play time sometimes gets squeezed out of the school day by competing demands.

Anyone who has seen the effect of taking children outdoors to learn and play understands how powerful such experiences can be. Play is essential for children’s healthy development, meaning it’s an essential part of every day. Learning outdoors, also known as learning by doing, creates lasting memories, helps build a greater awareness of the environment, provides more opportunities to think independently, and gets children feeling challenged and excited by learning.

To celebrate this importance of real play and outdoor time 1700 schools globally took part in Outdoor Classroom Day on June 17, 2016 by including real and outdoor play into formal education. There were 270,000+ children involved, who spent a collective 814,000+ hours in 23 countries learning outdoors.

The first day was so successful that it is expanding to more countries with the next iteration of Outdoor Classroom Day slated for October 6, 2016. Parents and teachers around the world have been galvanized to get outdoors with their children, and have been posting pictures of their time outside through the hashtag #dirtisgood and #outdoorclassroomday, sharing their tips on how they get their kids playing every day.

 

Parents: find out more about Outdoor Classroom Day

Teachers: want to register your class/school?