5 Ways to Encourage Outside Learning This Spring
In my early days of homeschooling, when I knew that it was going to be a nice day, I would have the kids get up early to get all of their “schoolwork” done. My goal was to have their schoolwork done before lunch so we could enjoy the rest of the afternoon outside. This was before I realized that outside learning was just as valid of an educational method as any other. It is so difficult when your mind is trapped in the classroom model of learning as mine was to break away from it, especially when you would try to explain it to non-homeschoolers or homeschoolers that are steeped in that mindset as well. Although some people may thrive in teaching through bookwork, I have learned that learning can happen outdoors just as easily as indoors, and not only that but the outdoors can be your textbook. This method has been such a blessing for our homeschool! Let me explain by sharing five fun ways to encourage outside learning.
The other day, while my older kids were exploring in the woods, I took my toddler by the hand and took him for a walk along the hiking trail. I pointed to different items such as moss, a twig, a leaf, a pinecone, and others. Once he saw several of the same item, he started to get excited when he saw them and pointed them out, calling them by name. On the way back, I let him take one of each, and we brought them home for his nature collection. He was able to be outdoors in the nice weather, was able to observe nature, and learned new terms. He could touch, feel, smell, and experience science which would not have been the case had we been sitting several yards away in the house on the living room couch. (Of course, there is a time and place for that type of learning!) This was an excellent learning experience.
- Tea Party
If you are going to make the effort to entertain your child’s desire to have a tea party, why not take it outside? This could be for poetry reading time, art lessons, speech reading, or a family read aloud. Although some parents may be concerned that their children will be distracted, simply allot some time afterwards for play and make them aware that after the educational activity is complete that they can then play.
- Book Club
Why do it alone? Get a group of homeschool friends together, read the same book, and have the book club discussion outside. Your children will enjoy seeing their friends once in a while, and it is a great accountability tool as they all have to have the same reading done at the same time. Doing it outdoors will allow them to absorb some much-needed Vitamin D.
- Nature Observation and Art Study
Go ahead and gather favorite art supplies, pick a favorite spot, and draw what you see. Revisit the same spot season after season and observe how the plants, trees, or area in general changes throughout the seasons. Make the change of the seasons real in their mind using your backyard, a park, or somewhere in your neighborhood.
- Science Experiments
So many science experiments can be brought outdoors, and to be honest, it might be safer to do them outdoors. Whether it is a STEM experiment or placing mentos into Diet Coke, outside might be a safe bet! Water bottle rockets, a solar s’more oven, or an egg drop experiment all can be done outside and will teach your child in a way that they will never forget. The only problem with doing so many outdoor experiments when your children are young is that when they are older, they will want to do bigger and better experiments so get prepared. The fun continues all the way throughout high school. In our homeschool, we will be working on creating synthetic rubies! What is your favorite homeschool activity to do outdoors? Please leave your answer in the comment section below!