No Child Left Inside


The growing coalition of environmental, educational and public health organizations now supporting the No Child Left Inside Act represents over 47 million Americans, and the bill passed the House this past fall.  Looks like outdoor learning and basic environmental literacy are concepts whose time has come.  You can add your two bits to support final passage of the bill by signing the petition.  And enjoy the terrific video about outdoor learning.

Hat tip to the American Horticultural Association, a member of the coalition.



  1. Wonderful idea with good intentions. But it will fall short of it’s goal.

    If you want kids to get outside, parents, caretakers etc. have to get these kids off the couch, stop texting and away from the tube and computer.

    One place to start? Gardening programs in schools, volunteering at community gardens etc.

    What kid does not like to play in the dirt and make something grow?

    Another idea would be to make phys ed classes more enjoyable. Our district makes kids keep a journal on their physical activities.


    Then they have to share their journals with the rest of the class during phys ed class!!!


    Open mike free verse reading in gym class?

    Maybe the government will fund an “energy pill”. You know three pills a day that would provide all the exercise one needs!

    Want to inspire youth? Get Obama involved. He is a the poster child for fitness. Since he is cool he could make staying in shape cool.

    For those of you still wanting to replace the White House lawn with a veggie garden the kids with the phys ed journals coud start tearing up the lawn. When all is done and the tarragon planted they could recycle the pages of those worthless journals by using the pages as mulch in the garden!

    The (hated gym cass but in shape anyway) TROLL

  2. You need to start younger than school age. We are opening a pre-school and daycare right next to the garden center. These are children ages 2 to 5. We have built a 6000 sq.ft. play area outside. There is a gate between the nursery and the play area so the kids can be brought into the nursery, picnic area, etc.

    The curriculum includes an exercise program as well as a nature program. The goal is to try and get the kids outside as much as possible.

    With all the talk about how to get the younger generations involved in gardening we are actively doing something about. Although we have missed Gen. x,y,and z maybe their children, which are the kids we will be having at the pre-school will drag them in.

  3. It’s a bit bizarre, don’t you think?

    Take the kids and make them stay in gov’t buildings all day long, and medicate the ones who are too restless. Load them up with electronics and screens to entertain them and then wonder why the interest in nature is lacking?

    Now the gov’t is going to help the gov’t teachers handle this problem for us so that they will make the children go outside as part of the gov’t curriculum.

    Wouldn’t it be more efficient and cheaper for the parents to just spend more time outside with their kids?

  4. Amen to all these comments. I especially agree that having the gov’t mandate “environmental literacy” probably won’t help our kids much. How ’bout just letting the kids play outside? No adults leading them, no curriculum. TEaching the kids that the rainforests on the other side of the world are being destroyed won’t connect them to nature. Love of nature must start with sensory experience. We need to give our kids some freedom and let them take some risks, and let them learn things for themselves.

  5. agreed…………..
    save for sending money there is little we can do on the east coast to save the spotted owl in Oregon……….

    Do the tree huggers in Oregon give an owl pellet aboutthe blanders turtle which is endangered in eastern NY?

    No because it is not a designer species………….

    The (endangered conservative) TROLL

  6. Obama smokes cigarettes! Stop throwing money to causes that don’t deserve it. Big Gov should not pay for kids having kids. Adults take care of their own. Unless there is some personal responsibility everyone will be needing handouts. We now live in a different world than that Mr Smith Goes to Washington movie.

  7. Right on, Trey!! Way to go!!!!
    Yes, kids love to play outdoors if given the chance and a safe place…but just letting them loose isn’t an education, nor does it inspire them to pursue deeper interaction.

    In my opinion, providing funds–grant monies– for teachers to create a curriculum is not a bad thing, since too many teachers and parents must now pay for basic class supplies (paper, crayons, chalk, etc etc etc) out of their own pockets. It also means that teachers who don’t already know will have to educate themselves and learn the language of the outdoors, botany, etc. Just don’t create a “standardized test” that every teacher/child must pass.

    Local governments should set a basic standard for the curriculum, then let the feds dish out the grants, then back away.

    Personally, I would love to see the grant monies used to create more “Edible Schoolyard” type curriculums. It seems that these are very effective in many parts of the country–but it does take money to convert crappy, hard packed soil from part of a playground into fertile soil, then build a fence to keep the critters out, etc etc etc. This also seems an excellent opportunity for local gardeners who are retired from the work place (or those younger folks who have the time and ability) to volunteer as hands-on experts/classroom aides…then excellent cooks, flower arrangers, home canners, etc could also get in on the act….as well as local park botanists,ornithologists , entomologists, etc etc etc

    I think it’s a great idea to give grants for this type of education.

  8. Stop having all these babies! Too many people take more care to decide if they can adopt a cat or dog then to have a child. It is a total lack of personal responsibility. I gag when I hear how parents toss babies into day care because they are the kind that can’t survive without a Coach pocketbook. It is sick and sad.

  9. Vicki:

    “Letting kids loose” is certainly an education for kids. Exploring the woods, the backyard, or even a vacant lot, alone or with friends…you don’t think a kid learns from such things?

    And while I think the “edible schoolyard” is a great idea, I think we could benefit from something much simpler. Give children more recess time, perhaps a more natural environment to play in than just a blacktop and monkey bars. Doesn’t have to be a wilderness…how about just some trees and big rocks? I could be wrong, but I don’t think we’d need the fed gov’t to provide trees and rocks.

  10. Shouldn’t this be part of the basic science curriculum that is already offered? As I recall, science classes in grade school include weather, geology, zoo field trips, etc. and yes, growing plants. I think if we aim the Edible Schoolyard and other outdoor ventures as coming from the science dept and bring in PE and the arts depts as partners, it will be more of a success.
    Yes, this SHOULD begin at home and should begin earlier. So should many other things – basic manners, hygiene, reading, etc. However, due to many societal factors it is not, so schools must deal as best they can and fill in the gaps.

  11. It is a great video! RI has a ‘Children’s Gardening Network’ program whose mission statement is to have a garden at every school in the state! I do think that attitudes are changing toward locally grown food. One only has to look at the increase in local Farmer’s Markets to see this happening. It starts with each of us!

  12. Thanks for posting about this. I also had the petition on my site a few posts back.

    The Act is a great first step, but I agree with some of the other comments: Action needs to start at home with parents facilitating outdoor time for their kids. Whether that means simple activities the family can share in, or encouraging kids to get outside and figure out something to do.

  13. Interesting tidbit from the Catskill, New York board of ed.

    They are eliminating recess and replacing it with structured activities instead.
    So now we have smart buses on the horizon which will start the instrcutional day when kids get on the bus………….

    journals taking the place of phys ed

    and now no play after lunch

    top it off with some students in new york in 3rd and 4th grade receiving three hours of homework a night because the techars can’t get it done in class!

    A piece in the Kingston Daily Freeman today talked of community gardens taking hold in the city.
    A wonderful idea until the mayor got ahold of it.

    He wants a victory garden at City Hall. The generous do gooder says the garden will measure 8 ft x 8 ft!!!!!

    To top it off he wants the environmental studies classes at the gigh school to maintain it.

    Does it take 30- 40 people to pull weeds in 8×8 garden? This is what is wrong with socialism. Too many mouths not enough tomatoes.

    Even small cities have adopted congressional spending habits. How much money will it cost to bus 30-40 kids to the garden 4-5 days a week?

    How much interest will be gained by 30-40 kids trying to get into an 8×8 garden?

    Sounds like a $700 billion dollar tomato to me!!!!

    The (maybe the Brits will take us back) TROLL

  14. Yes, Mary, I think kids learn a lot on their own…I know I certainly did. But I also know that if I had had some guidance as a kid–some structured education re plants/earth/etc–I would have made an entirely different choice when I went on to college and I would have studied hort or botany instead of what I “copped out” with. I just could have saved myself 8 years (and thousands of tuition $$) getting to where I really wanted to be but had no idea until I got structured teaching about plants, earth, etc etc etc.

    Learning on one’s own, playing outside…all of it is enriching–and vital. But if one wants to truly learn indepth, one needs teachers and I say “bring it to the classroom and let’s fund that part of public education with federal funds–or any other way.” Obviously states and local governments are not stepping up and funding it since they can’t even afford the basics that they used to.

    Protecting and preserving recess and P.E., encouraging play outdoors, etc–all of this is extremely important. However, our schools are being stripped of funds right and left. Music and Art and now P.E. have fallen by the wayside and researchers can tell you how critical they are to all of the other “important” subjects including math and reasoning.

    This is a complicated argument. You can’t inspire a child by forcing them to stay in a desk all day long reading or watching videos or standing at a table following precise instructions for a science experiment. And you can’t fill the need for an enriching, rounded education of the natural world by simply saying to a child, “Go outside and have fun, honey!” Nor do you meet the need by going out with them if you, yourself, don’t have the knowledge to pass along. I learned a lot on my own, and from my parents, but I could have known myself much better if I had had a true “earth science” learning experience from qualified instructors.

    There are all kinds of examples of government money being used badly, but there are also tons of excellent examples of providing opportunities that could not be had otherwise.

    And if the feds can be talked into coughing up some grant money to fund some quality hands-in-the-dirt learning from qualified tutors/professionals/mentors then I believe it’s at least a step in the right direction.

  15. Vicki,

    Sure, there are many excellent causes that we could ask the “feds” to fund, but the fed. gov’t is already way too involved in public education and we’ve seen what a great job they do.

    It sounds to me like you’re blaming a deficient public school for not adequately exposing you to horticulture and therefore causing you to major in something that you now consider a waste of money.

    And that, frankly, is ridiculous.

    I’m hoping this “No Child Left Inside” movement focuses more on grassroots, local initiatives and not just pointless federal bills. This generation of children really does seem alienated from nature, but it’s parents who should be doing something about it, not congress.

  16. Mary, I’m not blaming a deficient public schools system…I actually benefited from one of the best school systems (read: richest in both $$ and dedicated teachers) in the country. And I”m certainly not saying I want the “feds” mucking about more in our school systems. What I am saying is that in many cases–mine included–students are are “cheated” out of an opportunity to have a deeper, more enriching educational opportunity when it comes to the natural world–and certainly when it comes to knowing where fruits and veggies come from and valuing the knowledge and skill it takes to grow good food.

    Because my education/home was in a rural/farming community it was naturally assumed that we children would grow up with all of the knowledge we needed about nature, gardens, animals, insects, etc. And that’s just plain silly…and what I hear you and others saying when you say “just let them have more recess time and time to play outside by themselves”–but it is not always enough to inspire, or enrich, or open doors or windows to the possibilities for further study and education.

    It certainly can’t hurt to have some dedicated teachers getting a few more bucks in their budgets earmarked for specific projects. And even if very few children are actually inspired to study hort or botany further, it sure can’t hurt to inspire a generation to have a greater appreciation for plants. After all, if it weren’t for plants none of us would be here!!

    And, I never meant to imply that my college education was a waste…but, yes, I’m still frustrated that I could have gotten started on my life’s passion 8 years earlier, and many more $$ in tuition money earlier!

  17. Vicki,
    I know what you’re saying. I think we just have a philosophical difference about education. There are so many great things schools could do for kids with extra $$$: taking them to the symphony, special art classes, etc., all wonderful and enriching in different ways; and not at all the federal gov’t’s responsibility to fund, in my opinion. I know many on this forum disagree.

    But I agree that extra recess time won’t inspire a deep love of botany. Rather, such outdoor time is necessary for children’s physical and emotional health, a more fundamental need. That was the thesis of the book “Last Child in the Woods”, which I’m pretty sure is the inspiration for the No Child Left Outside movement. It wasn’t so much about creating future gardeners per se.

    Anyhow, I also happen to wish that I’d majored in horticulture back in the day…I am only now, at 37, going back to school to study landscape design.

    And going broke in the process, of course. :o)

    Happy gardening,

  18. Yes, Mary…at the heart of the matter, we are in agreement. And good for you for going back to school!
    Happy New Year Gardening to You, Too!

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