Last March I attended the YMCA of Rock River Valley’s Community Dinner featuring John Ratzenberger. John is most known for his role as Cliff Clavin on the series Cheers and for his voice roles for Pixar. He also produced and starred in the Travel Channel series, Made In America. At this Community Dinner, he had a strong message about kids not having certain life skills. His comments were eye opening, enlightening, educational, and entertaining. I took away many ideas and thoughts, but the most important one was, kids don’t spend enough time outside!IMG_5891

I remember growing up playing outside. For me it was the norm. I grew up on a farm and it was our “job” to be outside to help. My siblings and I rode bikes, made up games, and played softball in our front yard between chores. I even have home videos of me asking my mom if we could watch TV that night. The answer was no, by the way, but I was okay with that.  

Mr. Ratzenberger spoke about his experience playing outside too. It is his belief that when children play outside they also learn how to problem solve with the added benefits of creative play, making messes and staying healthy. According to an article in Mommies Magazine problem solving skills are one of the top five reason to encourage outdoor play – even in the winter.

In a recent research study by University of Utah and University of Kansas psychologists, people scored 50 percent better on a creativity test after spending four days in nature. Co-author of the study, Professor David Strayer of the University of Utah believes outdoor activity “provides a rationale for trying to understand what is a healthy way to interact in the world, and that burying yourself in front of a computer 24/7 may have costs that can be remediated by taking a hike in nature.”

Now, I know that we definitely live in a different world than we used to, so playing outside isn’t always an option, but putting away the phone, tablet, or computer is an option. With technology being so prevalent in our everyday lives, we get so caught up with having our phones out that we forget to have real conversations and enjoy one another’s company. Here are the 16 signs you really need to put down your phone – SIGNS.

My recommendation is that the next time you are contemplating a problem, how about taking a 10 minute walk, playing a quick game of soccer or tennis, or even just sitting under a tree and watching the clouds fly by….

Written by Mrs. Rachel Rebsom, Director of Student Wellness and Engagement, Keith Country Day School