Since the arrival of winter we haven't gotten outside hardly at all. For our family, winter is the time for study. Time to do those aspect of school that a sunny day seems to shine out all the ability to logically think in terms of math and grammar. Whilst reading occurs quite inately in the out of doors through finding a comfy spot under a tree and reading stories aloud to the kids or they doing it themselves, writing in our nature journal and experimenting with different art mediums to illustrate our encounters with nature, we seem to be wimpy in getting out in the cold during the wintertime. Well that... and at sometime we are just going to have buckle down and get some stuff done.
That all being said, we are definitely having some nature deficit right now. We need a good nature day as if our lives depended on it. Perhaps we do. I am thinking that we should find some way to do something out of doors on Thursday. It is therapy day and already has a wrench thrown in to our academic day to begin with.
While it is only February, I have begun to turn my thoughts towards late spring and early summer when we typically begin our nature school excursions or explorations of just plain cool places. I look forward to our family trip to Mesa Verde and Durango and my first ever no kids, just mom (and my mom, aunt, and grandma) trip to Jamestown and Williamsburg. Well those two among other mass trips to antique stores knowing those ladies. Shopping and who knows what else. The best thing going for me as to getting some time to savor some place I have never been to before is that Grandma isn't as young as she used to be, mom has a bad knee and Aunt has MS among other challenges so I am wondering if some personal adventure time for me just might be possible. Not that I am not looking forward to some time picking up some vintage lace, buttons, forks, pictures and fabrics for my art.
Oh... I really digressed. So I am reading The Green Hour, A Daily Dose of Nature for Happier, Healthier, Smarter Kids by Todd Christopher.
Loved this quote at the beginning of the first chapter.
"I am struck by the fact that the more slowly trees grow at first, the sounder they are at the core, and I think that the same is true of human beings. We do not wish to see children precocious, making great strides in their early years like sprouts, producing a soft and perishable timber, but better if they expand slowly at first, as if contending with difficulties, and so are solidified and perfected.
-Henry David Thoreau
I picked it up at the library, so it is astounding that I didn't need to buy it and add it to my ever growing nature school library.
I found the tips to be pretty average in the first chapter on enjoying the outdoors with kids.
My additional tips would include:
1. let the kids set the pace. Letting them guide you will not only enrich them but you. You will have no better instructor on the lost art of mindfulness than that of a young child. They take the time to really marvel and be in the moment. It is an art that we as adults can sometimes leave behind. We exchange being in the moment, to an opportunity for multitasking and goal orienting. Not that those are bad things, but not on an intentional outing to allow your child, and yourself, to play, to marvel, to soak up some Vitamin D, and just be.
2. Leave the technology behind (well you might want your cell phone or walkie talkie). But seriously...no i-pods or other musical or thus distracting devices.
3. Take notes. "What is that?" questions will pop up a lot and if you are like me, you won't know and you will need to go and look it up later.
4. The most amount of structure you need is just plan on where you are going and to be prepared. (Snacks, water, sunscreen, rope, pocket knife, compass, rain gear, etc...) The rest will plan itself.
Happy Adventures... We will be back from time to time until spring. Then away we'll go!
With the winter weather, we certainly haven't gotten outside as much as usual, but even so, we know this is something we need to work on. In "The Green Hour," find ideas and inspiration for getting your kids outside for one hour each day.