Fall is upon us and so is the desire for fresh air, trees and cold creeks. Spending time outside (rain or shine) in natural settings and environments has been scientifically proven to help improve children and adults cognitive self.
Children especially, respond greatly in a positive way to spending time in nature. A few topics I would like to touch on through this blog include hands-on experience, improving specific life skills as well as safety and preparation.
- Little Feet Nanny Services is a big time supporter of learning through hands-on experience and using all five senses as much as possible. Examples of this while playing outside can be as simple as noticing the difference in various kinds of tree bark while on a trail hike, exploring the weight and texture of rocks and feeling the temperature changes in rivers or creeks by touch. Using our nose, we can decipher by smelling herbs, flowers and tress; cloud watching, looking for rain storms, judging the distance between the tree and river or how large a butterfly is while resting on a flower's petal are all ways of using our excellent eye sight. If you are exploring with a more experienced guide and know edible plants and flowers, we may use our taste buds for a totally new "trail snack"!
- Outdoor play creates an opportunity to improve concentration through a more mindful setting by encouraging creative play and helping to develop problem-solving skills. For example, building a fort in the woods, we would choose resourceful materials found available and through trial and error, see what works! Lifting rocks to find bugs and animals or learning to follow a trail by the blazes or track markings are all great ways to learn through experiential education.
- A saying I've long remembered is this, "There is no bad weather, just bad planning." I'd like to focus this section on clothes and gear. When participating in outdoor activities, what we wear has a huge effect on how we enjoy ourselves. Children will gain an ability to learn about different weather and how to prepare when able to decipher what is needed for hot, windy, cold or rainy days.
- Learning outdoor safety takes on a different role during this setting as well. Children may learn how to set a hook for fishing, use a knife for whittling or an axe for chopping firewood. Learning to use these instruments as tools and learning to use them safely will encourage responsibility later in life.
As always, when planning an excursion outdoors (whether it be your neighborhood lakeside or a weekend long camping venture) make sure you research your surroundings, tell someone where you're going and pack extra/emergency supplies.