Children Need the Outdoors to Thrive

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Having lived in the country, and now a small tiny country town surrounded by the country on all four sides, I know that the value of fresh air, for me, but also my children, is so incredibly important.  Our children live out of doors as much as they possibly can, especially between the months of April to October.  From sunrise to sunset, and even into the night to play flashlight tag, or hide-and-go seek in a cornfield.  The value of fresh air does an unsurmountable good for our children.  When the weather was nice, and sometimes not so nice, our children couldn’t finish their schoolwork fast enough so that they could go outside for their next “project,” usually building something like a go-cart, a tree house, fixing up their bikes, 4-wheelers, and their dirt bikes, catching caterpillars to hatch butterflies, catching lightning bugs to shake the jar to watch them glow, finding worms in holes, building flower beds, crosses, planting flowers or vegetables, climbing in the rafters of our barns, rolling off of the rounded hay bales, running through the hose, squirt gun fights, playing in the mud, picking “special” and the most vibrant colored leaves off of trees in the fall, and anything else they could find to do or build with.  This did not include feeding the pigs we had, collecting eggs from the hens or ducks, or other outdoor chores they had.

bucket tomatoes

I am a big Charlotte Mason fan, and the study of nature was one of her favorite topics.  It is beneficial for their physical, emotional, and spiritual health.  It is good for all of us.  In spite even rainy days, Charlotte Mason insisted  on taking her pupils out once-a-week for a Nature Walk, allowing the children to experience and observe the natural environment firsthand.  She recommended children spend large quantities of time outside each day, no matter what the weather.

Another point she made here is that if this is to be an actual Nature Walk, where mom joins along, it is to be a walk of observing all the nature that surrounds them, and not a walk to talk, so-to-speak.  This is our time, as mothers, to train the seeing-eye, listen with a hearing ear, smell the flowers that they walk by, learn the difference between bee pollinating flowers verses butterfly attracting flowers, learn the different kinds of tree, birds nesting above their heads, and the touch of sap from the bark of a tree.

dog and pig

God talks in Genesis 1 of the Bible what God created on Days 1 – 6, and how He rested on the 7th day.  He “saw it,  and that is was good.”  Well in our lives today, very few people stop to smell the roses anymore, run their bare feet through the think green grass, or even the fine sand on a beach.  Today’s world has become so much about electronics, and what this one will or won’t do, and if it doesn’t do what we want, we run out to buy the next more expensive model.  But God says in Genesis 1:25 (KJV), “and God saw that it was good.”   In theory, then shouldn’t we enjoy all the He made and “considered that it was good?”  Think about it.  Shouldn’t we then offer “what is good” to our children by the very God whom made Heaven and Earth?

Kelly Benedict is a 24 year homeschooling veteran and mother of 9.  She and her husband are awaiting the birth of their 14th grand-baby, all under the age of 10.  She and her family, only 4 of whom are still in the nest, live in a tiny country town in Iowa.  She writes lesson plans for TOS, and specializes in Charlotte Mason’s theories and philosophies after a year of college through True North, and using CM’s methods over the years.    

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"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).