We’ve all heard about the many benefits of the great outdoors. As a child I remember exploring a creek behind our neighborhood for hours. I remember watching tadpoles swim and digging for worms. I remember pretending to search for gold in the creek like it was the California Gold Rush. I remember building forts out of tree limbs and planing picnics in a wheat field. At a young age, I never really truly understood how that early introduction to nature helped my childhood development.
I wasn’t a child who went hiking with my family, fishing or camping… we never camped. My parents weren’t really into nature, mainly because they were so busy. They still are today.
As an only child, I rode my bike for hours pretending I was living in a different time era. I caught lightening bugs and splashed in puddles, I had skinned knees and climbed trees. I was an explorer in my own mind… even if I didn’t have much guidance. Hey! I grew up in the 80s and 90s when you could roam free without a care in the world and the only rule was to be home for dinner.
Since I started homeschooling, I’ve read a TON. The book I’m currently reading is called The Call of the Wild and Free by Ainsley Arment. This book is an excellent read for any family considering homeschooling. The beginning of the book is all about the benefits of choosing the path to homeschool, she even spells out how to apply for college and taking standardized tests.
What I really gained from her book though was the strong emphasis on play and nature. I am not an education major, nor do I have any experience whatsoever in teaching. Many homeschool moms are former educators, which is cool… but I’m over here totally winging it.
Children are born with all the wonder they will need. Our job is not to take it away.
Again, I am not dogging the public school system or private schools for that matter. Many, many schools put a huge emphasis on nature in the classroom and some are super progressive to include outdoor play.
During quarantine I read Where the Crawdads Sing, a fiction novel which I enjoyed. The main character does not have a formal education and grows up an orphan in a swamp, but she finds her way and educates herself through nature. Now that I’m homeschooling and reading more about how much we can learn outdoors, I am realizing how incredibly smart the main character (and author for that matter!) are.
MOM HACK ON READING! In case you’re wondering where I find the time to read…. I download everything on Audible and listen when I’m cleaning or cooking dinner.
Back to my point, last week, we took our first nature walk. It was raining all morning, but that didn’t stop us. We stopped to observe the rain and splashed in puddles.
I downloaded an AWESOME app called PictureThis which allows you to snap a photo of any plant, flower or tree and the app tells you all about it. This isn’t an ad, I just think this app is extrememly important to help children understand what they can and can not touch.
After our walk, we brought back some flowers and leaves for our nature journals. I then wrote all of the items on our dry erase board and laid them out on our table for the kids to see, smell and touch. They spent a full hour recording their findings.
Luke wrote several paragraphs on our morning adventure… he’s the writer. Eden drew and colored every single thing we found… she’s the artist. Adam beebopped around the room, but all 3 of them thourouhgly enjoyed our first nature walk.
Some curriculums recommend nature walking twice a week. Regardless of what we decide to do from here… it’s something that we will implement in our weekly schedule regardless of the weather!
Do you take nature walks with your kids? What do they enjoy seeing and doing when exploring the great outdoors?