Thursday, November 17, 2016

Let them get muddy -- The power of kids and the outdoors

Mom2MomEd Blog: Let them get muddy....the power of kids + the outdoors
By now you've probably figured out that my family LOVES the outdoors and my kids would much rather be running around outside than cooped up indoors.

Honestly, it's just our way of life, so I don't even give it a second thought. Until recently, I assumed that all kids are into the same outdoorsy, nature related things.

I had a real eye opening experience today, though, when we spent some time with several "indoor" kids in a very outdoor area.

First, you need to understand that my son is not only into exploring outside but he's also into carrying a guide book around and referencing anything that he sees so he can read about it. Today, he had his animal encyclopedia (I'm not even joking) with him and was reading up on all of the critters that were in the nature area we were visiting.

Most of the other kids were enjoying themselves, but it was obvious that they and their parents were not entirely comfortable playing in this type of environment. I found it interesting to pay close attention to parent and child interactions and see how they were reacting when obviously out of their comfort zone.

I'm positive there is no "right" way to parent a child, but I am also positive that kids need some dirt in their lives. I've come across quite a few kids lately that obviously don't play outside. 

I'm confused.

Is this a new thing?

As a child, I remember running around outside barefoot all over the neighborhood until my parents made me come inside to eat or go to bed. I realize that times are changing, but are they really changing that much or are we getting so busy with technology and our own lives that we are forgetting the basics of being a kid?

I can think of a million fun things that we can do inside our house, but I'll be of the reasons why I push my kids outside to play is because I can't handle the chaos of four walls and noisy, rambunctious kids.

It gives me major anxiety and I don't react the same way that noise and chaos happens outdoors. There's a freedom that comes from being in your backyard and exploring. It's amazing how long my kids can spend out back just flipping over rocks, digging in the garden, and looking for bugs, seeds or what not.

These are some of the benefits that I have witnessed first hand in my children from being "outdoorsy":

1. They can identify different plants and know which ones are edible.
Because we hike and explore often, my children know what poison oak looks like, which berries are edible, and what fungi is and why it's important to leave it alone. It's pretty sweet actually listening to them talk about the different plants they find.

2. They have a respect for their environment that goes beyond the basics.
My kids are instinctively protective over nature and know the importance of not littering and helping to keep our natural areas clean.

3. They are able to explain and understand that they are not the center of the universe.
There is a far greater force of nature than we will ever be able to compete with. We are in wild animals' natural habitat and not everything belongs to humans. It's important for children (and adults) to know when and how to respect the natural order of things.

4. They've been able to witness the circle of life.
This is true in our own backyard as well. We recently lost one of our backyard chickens to a raccoon and while my kids were sad, they also understand the difference between predator and prey and that it's natural for animals to eat others.

5. This is my favorite one.....they can tolerate getting a little muddy, a little scratched up, a little tired just to experience nature and go on a new adventure.
My kids are natural explorers....they have been exposed to it since they were babies. They were hiking before they were able to walk, snug as a bug in our little baby carriers.

Again, all families and kids are different and the way we raise our children may or may not work for you as well. We have a deep love for the outdoors and hoped to pass that along to our children. So far, we've been successful it seems and hope to be able to continue this fun outdoor adventure with our littles. 

As you can see from the two pictures above, the great, wide outdoors has been a HUGE part of their educational experience so far!

Do you and your kids get outside without technology much? If so, what is your favorite way to explore nature? If not, what would it take to get you and your family outside regularly? Be sure to leave a comment and let us know!

No comments:

Post a Comment