As we wrap up our series on outdoor learning, I want to take a step back. We discussed why you should integrate the outdoors into your learning. Then, we went on to discuss the right attitude to ensure you are successful. In the last post we got into the dirt and talked about some specific ways you can utilize the outdoors in your learning.

To wrap up I want to discuss a simple encouragement with you. As parents we often pile on guilt, shame, or burden ourselves that we need to do more. Some parents may not have this struggle and may struggle in other areas. But, for many we see what other people may be doing because of their “Insta” stories or Facebook posts and feel that we do not measure up.

What matters most is not what others may or may not be doing. What matters most is not measuring up to some standard. What matters most is that you have fun and do what makes sense for your family. This is the same in regard to outdoor learning.

Our parting words to you is that you do not make this goal of integrating the outdoors into your homeschooling such a burden that it ruins your joy. We want fun, joyful learning experiences that help grow fun, joyful learners. The outdoors are a great way to encourage that and really good for your family. But do not create a standard or approach that will not work for your family, burn yourself out, and discourage your kids. You want to do everything you can to avoid attaching negative experiences and feelings to the learning experiences you want your children to love. The first way to make that happen is doing something that simply doesn’t work for your kids, yourself, or your schedule.

Have fun with what you can do and make the most of what your family is able to do. Then, rest and enjoy your time together. If you can only do a certain amount or certain aspects of this then enjoy those and make the most of them. We want your family to experience an abundance of joy in their learning adventure!

Go have fun today and #adventuretogether.

We have been talking extensively about integrating the outdoors into your family’s homeschool adventures! Last time we explored the importance of making memories through exploring and discovering outdoors. We also focused on the best way to use the outdoors in your adventure is to do it is what YOU and your family can do and the difference the right approach has on using the outdoors to create memory-making experiences!

Now, we are going to dive into some specifics!

 What are some specific ways you can use the outdoors in your homeschooling experiences?

Some of these ideas are extremely simple while others are a bit more involved. Remember, to get started it is less important how complex what you are doing is, rather simply getting started is the key!

Do another schooling activity, outside!

This engages your student’s other senses and helps them be more creative and attentive because their scene changes.

Practice the cornerstone habits of discovery: investigate, observe, record!

Get a notebook and send them outside with a list of things to investigate, observe, and record. The artistic learners will thrive with this. The recorders and note-takers will enjoy it too. The fidgety learners will love the activity. The benefits keep on going!

In a spelling funk? Create a spelling list based on the outdoors!

Have them scavenger hunt for outdoor items that start with a certain letter and practice spelling them. a

Make nature journaling essential to your homeschooling.

Capture the joy of the outdoors, observation, investigation, discovery, and more through the habit of nature journaling. Make it a weekly or daily part of your homeschooling. This can be artistic, scientific, active, or anything else you want it to be. Get a nice journal or sketch pad and get them outside observing. P.S. it also helps them practice being quite in strategic moments because some observation needs some quiet too!

This is only the beginning but almost anyone can do them.

Remember, it is all about just getting outside when you can and in the way that makes sense for your family.

In our last post we focused on why outdoor learning can be so beneficial (Integrating the Outdoors into Your Homeschooling – WinterPromise) In today’s post we will talk about our attitude and posture toward outdoor learning. We want you to know that if you take on the attitude that we talk about today you will be successful in making the outdoors a key part of your homeschooling experience.

We Learn Best When We Make a Memory!

Before we jump into the attitude there is an important element to learning that must be emphasized. A key part of the WinterPromise educational philosophy and a truly transformative view of learning is that we learn best when we make a memory. Yes, memories make learning. The best way to reinforce something is to help form a memory around it. How do we do that? By making enjoyment, discovery, and engagement paramount. This means for you the parent, ensuring your student discovers, laughs, and makes meaningful memories when you are learning is the best way to support their learning!

Take Advantage of the Outdoors by doing what fits YOUR FAMILY!

So, how does this connect to outdoor learning and our attitude toward it? Keep reading to find out! The way you view the outdoors will mean success or failure for you in carrying it out. If you place all this pressure on yourself or think that you have to “do” it in a specific way to make it a success then you are probably going to stress more and fail more often in creating meaningful learning experiences outside. The key to using the outdoors in your homeschooling is knowing that you should use them in the way that fits your family culture. What does your day look like? What does your outdoor space look like? How far is it? How old are your kids? How much time do you have to carry it out? All these questions only you can answer and they will help guide you to the right use of the outdoors for your family. So, the right attitude is first and foremost making sure that you actually take advantage of the outdoors by doing what you (and your family) can handle. No extra pressure, just do what you can do, how you can do it.

Invest Time & Energy Into Making Memories with Your Child!

The second part of the attitude is based around making memories. The goal of integrating outdoor learning and the attitude you should take on is NOT one where a super specific task MUST be completed, or you have failed. No, the goal of outdoor learning is to make memories together while exploring and discovering. This is a very broad range of success and lets the student lead. The key for you is to invest time and energy in simply making a memory with your child. This is the very foundation of learning and will make whatever you do with the outdoors a success.

To review:

  1. Making memories is the best way to reinforce learning.
  2. Your attitude will determine your success and an attitude of pressure is not the right one.
  3. The right attitude is twofold:
    1. Do not feel compelled to use the outdoors in the ways other people may expect. Do what makes sense and fits YOUR FAMILY. Only you can judge that.
    2. Finally, every time you do use the outdoors regardless of how specific you are being in your use, your goal is to make memories with your child through laughter, exploration, and meaningful moments.

Spring and summer often bring the hope and excitement for being outside. For families in general we understand intuitively that being outside is good for our kids and for us. Families that homeschool usually seek to bring the outdoors into their education for their children. In this new series we will explore how best to take advantage of the outdoors in our homeschooling and what posture we as parents should have toward this important goal.

In this post I would like to focus on the actual reasons that being outside is beneficial for your kids. Likely, most of us already have an idea as to why it is good but may lack specific reasons. When we examine the reasons for why something is true (or why we believe it to be true) we often have better clarity and motivation on that specific topic. With that in mind, here is a list of some of the major reasons the outdoors will enhance and are an important part of education.

More than just a different context, but never less.

First, it is important to realize that the outdoors provide more than just a different context for your students to learn. At the same time, it will never be less than that. At the very least you can take them into different scenery which will help them be more creative and more engaged.

Active students and students that are outdoors experience a general academic benefit.

Similar to the last one this will encourage you that even if you don’t feel you are doing something creative or unique with your outdoor learning you are still bringing broad benefits to your child. Studies show that students who are active and outdoors experience a better education.

It offers learning experiences with all senses engaged.

The outdoors offer a fantastic opportunity for you to engage all of their senses all the time. Even though it is not all focused on what they are learning they are simply more engaged outside when they are touching, feeling, and smelling the outdoors.

Problem solving and nimble thinking is promoted.

When a child is outdoors, they are constantly problem-solving or investigating, even when they don’t realize it. Children walking down a path discussing the trees and soil are at the same time avoiding pitfalls, finding stumps to jump from, and looking (or running from) bugs. So much is happening, and this is very healthy for their minds and development. Kids love it too!

Nature and outdoor curiosity are the foundation of sciences, scientific investigation, and cultivates curiosity.

British educator Charlotte Mason believed that promoting nature learning and curiosity was essential for every student as nature investigation is the foundation of the sciences. Do you want your child to excel in STEM? Get them outside early and often! It develops curiosity, joy in experience, and connects them to the idea that they need to investigate and explore the world around them.

ADHD/busy/fidgety students excel in this environment.

Many of our children are either ADHD or are simply busy and active. Often these students experience one of two extremes. Either they need constant stimulation to stay engaged or they are overloaded with stimulation and need calm and space. The outdoors unique serve both students. The outdoors offer loads of stimulation and experience for students craving engagement. While at the same time, it also provides a calm and soothing context for students normally over-stimulated inside. The outdoors are incredibly designed by God to speak to us and help us. Amazing!

Next time we will discuss how our attitude and posture toward outdoor learning is key to making it a success.