There is no place on this earth that doesn’t have beauty and experience to offer. Sometimes, we get so involved in our daily responsibilities that we don’t stop and make time to go out and soak it in. As parents, it is our duty to ensure we equip our children with all the tools for them to grow into healthy adults and build a life of their own. THAT is our legacy. We live on through our children by what we’ve passed down to them. In order to do this, we must step outside. We must feel and learn and grow from nature.
I know it is challenging to make time for this. But it doesn’t have to be hard! Here are some things that we do to incorporate the great outdoors into our daily routine.
First, we take a walk in the morning. It doesn’t have to be a big production. Just do it. Put on some shoes and walk out the front door. We usually walk from 10-15 minutes in the morning. Even 5 minutes will benefit you and your family. You’ll find that crossing the threshold is the hardest part. After that, it’s easy. Once you are amongst the trees, or hearing the birds sing, or smelling the flowers, everything else will melt away. You’re just outdoors with your kids, enjoying the scenery. Even when my kids say they don’t want to go and are dragging their feet, they instantly come alive once we’re outside. Their senses begin firing and their spirits are renewed. They start asking questions and observing, they draw closer and giggle and become more animated. It’s a wonderful thing to wake up to and should be everyone’s goal. When you come back home, it feels like you’ve been gone much longer than you were. It’s a do-over if you’ve had a rough morning. It’s an accomplishment if nothing else. You’re whole day could go awry, but guess what, you got that walk in so that counts for something!
Secondly, try to incorporate it into homeschooling. In an informal way, we can encourage the natural beauty of the outdoors and the calmness it brings us just by bringing our schoolwork outdoors. I love to bring snacks or lunch and have a picnic on a blanket in the backyard. This will usually inspire play and adventure in my kids. Bring an art journal to paint or some blocks and books and read outside. Pick some wildflowers. Enjoy the simple things.
Lastly, venture to new places with a group. We love to set up play-date hikes in our state parks. I’ve organized a Wild + Free group for this very purpose. It is a hub for the people who love to be outside and want to do it more, or for people who are new to the area and don’t know where to explore. I hosted a hike a couple weeks ago with some of our close friends and it was a blast! All of the children were running and chasing and climbing and being…well…KIDS! They tested their limits and strengths naturally and independent from me, which is something I encourage but hard to bring to fruition. My son and daughter brought their magnifying glasses and observed mushrooms, moss and caterpillars in the wild. We caught a glimpse of dew from the previous night’s rain caught in a spiderweb in a decaying tree. What an amazing and beautiful thing to see! The way the light catches the water showcases the intricacies of the web that you can’t quite fathom from a picture in a book. You don’t have to make a rigid lesson plan (or even have a goal!) to gain insight from nature. Kids benefit greatly by learning through play and figuring things out for themselves. As a facilitator, all you have to do is provide the opportunity.
How do you get your kids in nature? Where are some of your favorite places to visit?