And as many of you who follow my blog are aware I decided several weeks back to join the 1000 Hours Outside Challenge (another great place to check out by the way). In the 1000 Hours Outside Challenge you strive to get your children, and hopefully yourself, outside for a grand total of 1000 hours a year. This really sounds hard at first, even broken down to approximately 20 hours a week it still sounds kind of hard. But, if you consider the fact that the average American child spends about 1200 hours a year in front of a TV screen you end up a little more motivated.
Some weeks I've done better than others, but most weeks we still end up with a decent amount of outside time. Our year to date total as of the end of last week is 130.5 and I still have until about mid September to get the other 869.5 hours!
OK, now that I've rambled and shamelessly plugged other sites I love, it's time for ...
5 Important Reasons to go Outside:
1. Charlotte Mason recommended many years ago that children between the ages of 0-7 spend 4-6 hours outside a day! Ok, so I'm not a true follower of Charlotte Mason. I love her work, the concept, and everything attached to it but it's just not for me or my family (at least not all of it). However, Charlotte Mason is revered for her work with children and her practices (as many of you are fully aware) are still used today. (Just a quick peak of what 1000 hours outside reminded us of about Charlotte Mason's outside theory found here. ) You could (and a lot of people do) simply take your preschoolers outside for this amount of time each day and read a story or two at bedtime to them and call it preschool. There is no reason not to and a lot of reason to simply do that and leave the formal learning until the child is a bit older.
2. It's free science lessons! Yes, you heard me right. Yes, this is another Charlotte Mason theory with nature science and nature walks. (For those of you not familiar with Charlotte Mason you can go here to find out more.) This is one thing that we try to do at least once a week. There are so many ways to teach nature all year round just by going outside. Nature includes animals, plants, rocks, and you can even tie it into your State studies. My children and I have had long conversations about Native Americans while on our walks, they've attempted to reproduce many things that Native Americans used to do while remaining outside after those walks. This could be done with pioneers and other groups as well. Can anyone say History lessons outside?
3. It burns excess energy. Let's face it, we spend almost all of our time with our children and you know when they've been cooped up for too long in the house because you're certain if they jump/run/flip/etc just one more time your walls are coming down. Send them outside! Let them play, run, jump, flip, and go nuts all outside. By the time they come back in they're more than likely going to be calmer and more relaxed. When you get antsy go out into the yard with the kids and get as active as you can with them! Burn that energy (and calories ;-) ) off!
4. There are free toys outside created by imagination! We've all been guilty of saying things like: "Put that stick down!" "Stop running with that!" and, my favorite, "Your sister DOES NOT want to sword fight with branches!". However, under careful supervision, sword fights are wonderful things. Safety first all the way. Earlier this year, before I took the challenge, my friend and I were amazed at the creativity of two of our children who took it upon themselves to build a bird's nest! They did a wonderful job of it and I made sure that no one bothered it afterwards, we let nature take it's course and it took over a week to finish blowing away (well, some birds did take advantage of some of the material as well as our resident outdoor large rodent).
|One of the "J boys" (from Learning Life... )|
and YCJ building a bird nest.
5. You never know what you're going to find. Many of our walks have had us come across wonderful things we would have never seen otherwise. Insects that I had no idea looked so neat (I am NOT a bug person), old shacks in the woods that hunters had once used (or other people), we've seen deer up close and other shy creatures. The list is endless and every time we see something new it sparks the children's interest, causing several Internet searches to figure out who, what, why, how ... You could almost build an entire curriculum just on what you find outside!
Homeschool Camper is on Facebook here.