Family 411: Nature improving kids' health

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A new study by the American Academy of Pediatrics says access to nature can improve kids' physical and mental health.

Some parents are making sure exploring the outdoors is part of their routine.

Unstructured play in the woods for the Cherubini family.

Hands-on learning in nature is a priority.

"Being outside, being silly and playing in the leaves and getting dirty is important," said mom Kelley Cherubini.

Environmental educator Sandra Reed says she can teach science, math and reading outside.

Research by the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests children who are exposed to nature are better learners.

"Open creative play like this, this is what we don't get anymore and this is what the kids really need to grow up before they even enter the school system," says Reed.

Reed says parental fears of crime, traffic, even of nature itself play a role in keeping kids indoors.

"My kindergartners, they sit on the grass. Some of them won't. They are afraid of the grass."

"It's okay to get scraped knees, scraped elbows and fall down," said dad Josh Cherubini. "It's part of growing up and learning how to deal with different situations."

According to the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, the average American child spends seven minutes a day playing outdoors and seven hours a day in front of a screen.

Of course it's not all bad.

"I can't tell you how many apps on my phone for bird identification, or track identification, so we use technology," says Reed.

"It's OK for them to be on screens and you know, have that sort of entertainment," says Kelley. "But you also need to be outside and expose them to the world and nature."

"I am excited when I see this," said Reed. "And I see mom and I see dad, as a family, in the woods kinda like claiming it back and I hope to see more of it."

The American Pediatrics Associated says spending time in nature can improve heart health, weight management, ADHD and stress among children.

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