Many times we think of the summer as a period away from school and formal study, without considering the other benefits that children receive during the days when the school doors are closed. Yet we know that exploring our world has significant educational benefit that may not be focused on a specific topic or discipline. You might not know that:

  • Studies show that outdoor experiences improve self-esteem, self-confidence, independence, autonomy, and initiative in teens.
  • Contact with natural and physical activity in a natural environment improves psychological well-being.
  • Students who play and learn in outdoor settings perform better on tests, have higher grade point averages and cause fewer classroom disruptions.
  • Spending time in the open air and learning outside increases student’s ability to think creatively and improves problem solving skills.
  • Seven out of ten U.S. children have low vitamin D levels due to reduced exposure to sunlight thus risking their bone and heart health.
  • Exposure to the outdoors reduces the symptoms of ADHD
  • Exposure to natural morning light promotes better sleep.
  • Each hour that a child spends outdoors beyond the average of 3.7 hours per week reduces the risk of myopia by 2%.
  • Children who play outside in natural settings are less likely to suffer obesity and less likely to contract diabetes.

There are many other health and social benefits to being outdoors. In Michigan the best time to do so is during these summer months, however winter sports and fun are as important as the summer ones. We must all encourage the development of the positive behaviors of sharing and cooperative engagement. Reducing stress and increasing attention time enhances students’ ability  to focus and therefore their ability to learn. For all of these reasons the Detroit Public Schools Foundation supports Camp Shurly, Metro Detroit Youth Day, the DPS Day Camp, and other summertime activities that will lead to greater academic achievement in the fall.

Bulleted statements are from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.