Get Outside with Your Kids this Fall (it's good for you and them)
I’m in the middle of occasionally reading The Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv, and even as a former environmental educator and teacher, I find it very eye opening. Almost as soon as I cracked the book, I started taking my girls outside more in the afternoons when I get home from teaching.
Sometimes they don’t want to go outside. They are cozy and happy inside. But then I say something like, “Let’s go on an adventure! Let’s find a secret spot in the woods!” and they flock to the door quickly. It’s all in the presentation as a parent, isn’t it?
The Last Child in the Woods points out the many emotional and physical benefits for children given large amounts of unstructured time outdoors. There are many studies to support this, and the author even points out links to ADD, depression, and anxiety from our screen and sedentary culture.
So, how can you motivate your kids to go outside, and what can you do?
*start by exploring all the areas in your yard. Take expeditions to the trees behind your house, in the neighborhood park, the schoolyard, or anywhere with a field, river, forest or stream. It doesn’t have to be big. Just somewhere to check out.
*turn over rocks; look at what creatures are underneath (ants? Salamanders? Insect eggs? Kids LOVE this!).
*find animal homes (holes in trees, hollows under rocks, holes in the ground, nests)
*find places fairies could live. We made a forest fairy home and visit it often to see if they are home. My girls sing a song to them as well.
*collect items for a treasure box. Nature items such as colorful leaves from the ground, moss, pine cones, ferns, acorns, etc., can be treasures for little ones.
*lie down in the grass and observe. Encourage your little people to do the same. Mine did this for about 30 seconds before tackling me, but that is something, right?
I’ll do a full review of this book on Non-Toxic Kids soon, but in the meantime, how do you encourage your children to go outside and explore?