January 22, 2010
Homeschooling gives us a terrific opportunity to use the outdoors to academic advantage. In my recent post on the positive effect of nature on children's attention spans, I promised some practical tips on how to incorporate more 'green' time into your homeschool day. Inspired by a master in the use of nature for education, Charlotte Mason, these ideas are easy to implement and fun for the whole family.
Caveat: To all of you Type A's – Giving your kids 'green' time does not need to be a huge project. Don't try to plan it too much, or you may do a lot of planning and not so much doing. Just get out there. Kids and nature have a natural connection. Let that connection run its course and enjoy your own recharge with your kids!
Here are some ideas for enjoying the benefits of nature and improving your child's focus at the same time:
- Go for a walk in the woods or along the beach. If you have a state park nearby, invest in an annual pass. The pass gives you the freedom to go whenever the spirit moves you!
- Create a nature collection of items such as rocks, shells, leaves or pine cones.
- Plant a garden with your children. If you don't have any outdoor space for a garden, plant seeds in pots and build your own indoor greenhouse.
- Go on scavenger hunts outside. Use your homeschool lessons as a jumping off point.
- Let them get dirty! Allow your kids to play in dirt, mud and puddles. Trust me, they are washable:-)
- Go swimming in a lake, tackle the fine art of fishing, journey the marsh while frog hunting, or use the binoculars for birdwatching.
- Build a structure out of natural materials. Forts made of sticks or branches are a favorite at our house.
- Create science projects around nature. A collage on leaves requires you to get out and gather some!
- Hunt for bugs and see how many different kinds you can identify.
- Encourage your children to take their homeschool outdoors. Reading and other activities can be done in the backyard or at a park.
The great outdoors is a timeless retreat for refreshment and renewal. Time spent walking through a forest can yield creative ideas, solutions to problems, or a new outlook on a relationship. The rejuvenating effects are not specific to the adult world, though. Get your kids outside for a simple way to renew and recharge their focus and concentration. The only side effect to this Professor Mom prescription is the occasional smudged cheek or skinned knee!