All kids love to be outside, and most kids aren’t outside nearly enough. I mean honestly, if you keep kids inside you’re just asking for trouble. If they are going crazy “jumping off the walls” as we tend to say….well then take them where there aren’t any walls! There are all sorts of studies out there now that reference why it’s important to get kids outside. Since the time that kids started spending less and less time outside and more time in front of some sort of electronic device there has been a rise in sensory issues, attention deficit, and childhood obesity.
For over a year now we’ve been participating in an outdoor discovery program that we absolutely love. Parents, alongside their preschoolers, hear a story having to do with something about nature (season specific), and then you take a hike with them looking for what they referenced in the story. Yesterday they were focused on water. How does water effect nature? How does water play into the life of the animals and insects? What is evaporation? They end with a craft related to the topic of the day that they take home. It’s always fun, and it’s one of his favorite activities. I’m amazed by these little 4 year olds and what they are able to learn in these programs.
Programs like this are invaluable. Kids should feel, hear, see, and understand the changes that are happening around them each season. Learning about nature from a book or on a television show isn’t the same. With hands on learning they start to show an interest in science and nature. Being outdoors teaches children to observe what’s around them, and ask the questions that curious children have asked for ages like, “why do bugs go under the logs”? , or “what happens to animals in winter, are they cold”?, and “can I touch that bug, it’s so cool looking”?. We want our children to grow into adults that care about the physical world around them. In order to do that, they need to have a basic understanding of it.
If you don’t have a program like this one near you – create one of your own. Take your kids on a hike, or go out into the backyard. Don’t have a backyard? Find a park. Go to the library, check out a book about something in nature that intrigues your child, and get outside with your kid. Look around in a way you haven’t in a long time. Discover nature all over again with your child.
After his discovery class yesterday we went to a local beach. It’s far too soon for the water to be warm, but in his rain boots my son was knee high in the water looking for fish, and trying to create a “fish trap” so he could “check them all out”. His curiosity of the world around him is super refreshing, and I want to continue to encourage it.
Go out and play! Discover spring and all of the other seasons all over again and share with us what you find or what really gets your child excited. And remember – it’s good for you, too!
xoxo – Jeannine