Can Outdoor Time Help Your Child’s Vision?

I’m a fan of giving kids ample time outdoors, great for vision and coordination. But have you heard that time outdoors might reduce the development of nearsightedness, or myopia? Over the years, theories have come and gone about causes of myopia in children, but a new study makes the case for generous outdoor time.

This latest Taiwanese study finds that schoolchildren spending 80 minutes a day outside during school recess had a significantly reduced nearsightedness or shifts toward nearsightedness compared to a control population.

Outings as learning opportunities

Regardless of what the science ultimately finds about myopia, why not use your next outing with your child to build your child’s visual brain? My book SEE IT. SAY IT. DO IT! The Parent’s and Teacher’s Action Guide has exercises that dovetail into outdoor time.

For example, the next time you plan a picnic, trip to the zoo, or afternoon at the park try my “Going on a Picnic” exercise, a memory and sequencing game. In this exercise, ask your child to declare aloud what she will bring along on the outing, starting with one item. Then ask her to repeat the statement but add another object to the list, stating the objects in alphabetical order. Repeat.

For example, your child says:

“I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing an apple.”

 “I’m going on a picnic and bringing an apple and a banana.”

“I’m going on a picnic and bringing an apple and a banana and a chimpanzee.”

And so on.

Of course, you can play this game whether you’re going on an real outing or not.

You’ll find more exercises in my Action Guide and my newest book, SEE IT. SAY IT. DO IT! 50 Tips to Improve Sports Performance, useful outdoors or in, to boost athletic skills and confidence. As the sporting season ramps up, I’ll talk more about sports vision therapy and using SEE IT. SAY IT. DO IT! techniques to improve athletic skills and confidence.

Meanwhile, your thoughts? Are your kids getting an hour a day outside playing? Have we as a society become myopic about the basics children need to develop?

Lynn Hellerstein
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