School starts tomorrow for many families. For others it started last week. Summer has flown by and although the children have barely stepped into school … they are all new immersed in the maelstrom of modern life: getting up early, going to school, leaving school, park for 10 minutes while having a snack and quickly to follow the agreed extracurricular activities.
With the return of routines, the long hours of free play, trips to the mountains or the beach, inevitably reduce the time outdoors, in nature and we return to life between concrete walls.
But children still need movement and freedom of exploration, even if it’s winter, even if it’s cold, even if it’s not vacations.
Photographs by Lía Durán Photography
AND WHY DO CHILDREN NEED TO BE OUTSIDE?
I actually think we all need it. When we are stressed, confused, overwhelmed, if we go for a walk, do we not return with greater peace and clarity of mind?
In the case of children, who are in full development, who need movement to mature and who have that innate curiosity and desire to explore they need it even more. As studies show, spending time abroad has multiple benefits. Among them:
- Improves concentration and memory problems
- Promotes creativity and increases your ability to solve problems
- Increase performance and facilitate learning
- Reduce stress and anxiety
You can deepen this information here, on Heike Freire’s blog , which is great.
AND WHAT CAN WE DO TO ENSURE THAT OUR CHILDREN HAVE THEIR NECESSARY DOSE OF OUTDOOR AND GREEN?
Activities and ideas to do outdoors there are many. But if we have many tasks and occupations throughout the day, it is best to plan them and incorporate them into our agendas, to avoid that in the rush we leave them last. And if it is impossible during the week … on the weekend we can take the opportunity to explore, play and have fun in nature or outdoors.
Following the advice of Debi, from Go Explore Nature and even though Terrícola does not go to school, we have been developing a list of ideas to do this new “course”. I tell you some proposals that we have planned. And I’ll tell you what comes out of each one!
Choose a place to observe nature at least once a week. The idea is that it is always the same place and close to home (to avoid missing the weekly appointment). Children can be attentive to vegetation, sounds, colors … and observe the changes according to the seasons, on rainy days, on hot days … Older children can document the changes in a journal “Nature notebook”, “Notebook explorer ”(whatever name comes to mind). You can expand information about this idea here .
Find dirt and sand parks and investigate what insects there are , if we find lizards, snails after the rain … We can take magnifying glasses, flasks to better observe the insects, etc.
Explore nature at night . In winter it gets dark so early … But that excuses us to shut ourselves up at home. The darkness gives us new possibilities for exploration. You can look up at the sky and look at the stars, observe the constellations … And on days when you don’t see anything … We can ask why? Are there clouds, pollution? If we go to a place without artificial light, does the sky look better? There are tons of really cool astrology books for kids.
And what noises does the night bring? Depending on the time of year in nature you can hear crickets, owls …
Create drawings and mandalas with leaves, pinecones, and trunks that we can have collected at the weekend or in the park.
Grow our own plants , whether in pots, in the garden, for the balcony, wherever! You can start with something simple, how to grow aromatic plants .
Stretch out and watch the clouds. On a windy day it is incredible how fast they go, at sunset they are orange … and what shapes do they have? Do they look like a dog? A snail?
Make a bird feeder and watch what happens . We can place it on the terrace or garden if we have it and failing that, in some way out to the mountain, in the park …
And the best idea of all for last … go to a beautiful place and let the little ones decide what and how to play. We will be surprised by the ideas that arise spontaneously from them.
I don’t want to make the post much longer so I’ll leave it here. But can you help me to continue expanding this list and we talk about it another day? Do you have more ideas for the little ones to enjoy during the course of time outdoors?