Nature based learning is a growing trend in education, but the homeschool world has always known the importance of giving our children plenty of time outside. Nature-based learning can also take place in a classroom when natural elements have been brought in.
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Nature Based Learning – 7 Ways to Embrace Nature in Your Homeschool
Nature based learning is any learning activity that takes place outside, it can be doing a worksheet at the picnic table in the backyard or identifying trees on a hike. Nature based learning is important for kids of all ages, not just your elementary kids.
Spending time in nature increases creativity and a feeling of connectedness with nature. Children of all ages can benefit from spending time outside connecting and exploring nature.
I have been reading The Last Child In the Woods and the author spends time interviewing students and the children who spend time alone outside report feeling calmed by their time outside. Giving children time to play and learn outside gives them their own space with very few rules where they can think creatively.
Children who spend time in nature have an easier time focusing on their school work.
Many moms talk about sending kids outside before their schoolwork, and this is something I have definitely done in the past. It seems counterintuitive, but the evidence is there. the plus side is that your kids are going to get their wiggles out outside instead of when they are supposed to be writing.
If you have a student who is struggling to focus, try focusing on outdoor time and see if you notice a difference.
Children who spend time outside demonstrate more advanced problem-solving skills than kids inside.
This has to do with risk-taking and feedback. Those who play outside tend to take risks they are more willing to try climbing a tall tree, building a rope swing, or finding their way on a trail.
These tasks build children’s problem-solving skills gradually as they spend time in nature as they grow.
Schooling and Nature-Based Learning
“Never be within doors when you can rightly be without!” This famous quote by Charlotte Mason is a call to outdoor life. Homeschoolers have never lost the intuition that outdoor education is best.
Traditional schools are catching up by turning to more outdoor learning with outdoor classrooms, field trips, and fewer playgrounds at recess. Go with your gut and get the kids outside.
Ideas for Nature Based Learning at Home
I have listed these in baby steps, if you are new to nature-based learning, start small, and build positive memories outside then you will grow to look forward to it!
These are the activities that my family has done outdoors and this is the natural progression that worked for us.
Eat Al Fresco
Have a lunchtime picnic! Having a picnic table in your backyard makes this an easy thing to do regularly, but a blanket on the ground will work well too.
Outdoor Poetry Time
Poetry is often inspired by nature and so it is a natural activity to bring outside. Select a poem that is seasonal and bring it outside to read. We have found this is very powerful when we are in a change of seasons.
If allowed in your area a backyard fire is great fun. I added this to the list because it is what my husband always does when he brings the kids outside. It keeps their hands busy and makes the chilly days more comfortable.
Fire is ancient and powerful. Teaching fire making is a great way to spend time outside.
This is a stretching challenge, but I want you to go outside on a not-so-perfect day.
There is a Swedish saying: “There is no such thing as bad weather, only poor clothing choices.” So, bundle up and experience nature that isn’t warm and sunny. There is so much to explore and observe on a rainy, snowy, or cold day.
Plan to spend a whole day hiking maybe pack lunch and walk for a few miles before having a picnic.
This is a great way to explore a new area and give your children some quiet reflecting time. The rhythm of walking outside is calming and promotes a meditative state.
Now that you are rugged outdoors people, it is time to plan an overnight camp out, even if you are just camping out in your backyard.
The biggest goal of nature based learning is to allow children to connect with nature on their own. Giving children plenty of time to play independently in nature will foster independence, creativity, and problem-solving.
Enjoy being outside with your kids in nature.