101 reasons to take your homeschool outdoors
nature, Nature Study

101 Reasons to Take Your Homeschool Outside

 

  • #1 – “Never be within doors when you can rightly be without!” – Charlotte Mason
  • #2 – Because nothing breathes fresh air into a math lesson like the music of bird song while you do it
  • #3 – For all of the treasures glimmering in a tide pool or a pond–living and non-living–ancient and new

101 reasons to take your homeschool outside

  • #4 – Because you never see the exact same place twice when you’re outdoors. The weather, the time of day, the season, and the growth within yourself all open and close little doors in the backyard classroom. One morning’s wonder may be the perfect green sprouts pushing through the snow while the evening’s wonder may be the flash of radiant orange across the trunks of the trees as the sun sinks behind the mountains.
  • #5 – “Wisdom begins in wonder.” – Socrates
  • #6 – For spiders and their webs, and the silent lessons in engineering, beauty, and resourcefulness that they provide

101 reasons to take your homeschool outside

  • #7 – Because nature study IS science! It’s biology, chemistry, astrology, physics, botany, zoology–and more. “The very essence of nature study is science.  Of course, there are all sorts of additional skills that happen alongside nature study – geography, art, writing, reading, research, and even math – but the very purpose is centered fully on science.” – Our Journey Westward (Read the full blog post here.)
  • #8 – Because you, the parent instructor, don’t have to do anything in order to have a successful outdoor learning experience. You don’t have to prep, make copies, cut anything up, find obscure supplies at the hardware store, flag pages in a book, or make an outline. All you have to do is show up.
  • #9 – For the marvel of ancient trees shielding us from the rain, welcoming us to climb upon their branches, and for the miniature universe they support with their shelter, food, and oxygen. Trees are excellent teachers, and patient ones at that.

101 reasons to take your homeschool outside

  • #10 – Because muddy feet > “stay in your seat”
  • #11 – Because you don’t write lines like this unless you’ve spent a lot of time seeped in nature: “Bees blew like cake-crumbs through the golden air, white butterflies like sugared wafers, and when it wasn’t raining a diamond dust took over which veiled and yet magnified all things.” – Laurie Lee
  • #12 – For rock thrones, tree forts, and castles made of snow. For leaf crowns and flower garlands, for the kingdom of a child’s mind.

101 reasons to take your homeschool outside

  • #13 – Because one of the greatest sounds in a mother’s heart is the excited cry of “Mama! You have to come and see this!” from across a meadow
  • #14 – For adventures, great and small, teaching us to look beyond where we have looked, wonder beyond what we already know, and believe beyond what we thought we could do
  • #15 – Climbing, balancing, navigating, and exploring physical boundaries helps children to build confidence in themselves, physically and mentally. This confidence seeps into every aspect of their lives–academically, socially, and emotionally.

101 reasons to take your homeschool outside

  • #16 – For dandelion fluff and helicopter seed pods
  • #17 – For the discovery that things are made to change–frogs and caterpillars, seeds and stones–and that we are part of that, as well
  • #18 – Reading about life cycles, such as that of a butterfly or a frog, is all well and good. But witnessing these cycles in nature, seeing them first-hand, connects in our consciousness on a deeper level. It’s the difference between hearing a description of how a sun-warmed peach tastes and actually tasting one. Sense memory is so powerful, and it sticks around. A child who has watched the tadpoles in the pond grow legs and become frogs will carry that experience with them forever.

101 reasons to take your homeschool outside

  • #19 – For the butterscotch-vanilla smell of ponderosa bark warming in the sun
  • #20 – For the feeling of pine resin on your hands
  • #21 – For the smell of sprinklers on a summer afternoon

101 reasons to take your homeschool outside

  • #22 – Because nature study trains us to use our senses to gather information, to ask questions, and to notice patterns–crucial skills for science and critical thinking. “Early training to use their senses in the outdoors helps them become aware of the birds, wildflowers, trees, and animals that are to be discovered in their backyards and neighborhoods. As the child grows, he can learn many things by observing the world that surrounds him.” – from Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers (read the full post here.)
  • #23 – “One should pay attention to even the smallest crawling creature for these too may have a valuable lesson to teach us.  ” – Black Elk
  • #24 – For the joy of watching a lady bug hunting aphids on a summer flower

101 reasons to take your homeschool outside

  • #25 – Because it’s important to learn how to decide which rocks or branches to put your weight on, and which ones not to
  • #26 – Playing in the dirt boosts the immune system. “What a child is doing when he puts things in his mouth is allowing his immune response to explore his environment. Not only does this allow for ‘practice’ of immune responses, which will be necessary for protection, but it also plays a critical role in teaching the immature immune response what is best ignored.” (read the whole article here.)
  • #27 – For autumn aspens, and the drama of their golden display

101 reasons to take your homeschool outside

  • #28 – Because recycled indoor air isn’t great for you. Stepping outside for even a few minutes can help boost immunity and keep you health and well. (Read more here.)
  • #29 – For our Mason jar visitors–the roly poly, the worm, and the snail
  • #30 – For secret garden paths, and winding dirt roads carved through pine straw

101 reasons to take your homeschool outside

  • #31 – For icicles and snow angels, snowmen and igloos
  • #32 – For fog settled across the woods like a blanket, both silencing and amplifying the sounds within it, making everything feel reverent and secretive and full of mystery
  • #33 – “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” – Fred Rogers

101 reasons to take your homeschool outside

  • #34 – Because nature is the playground we were meant to frequent as children, and we suffer from the loss of it. “When I started teaching as a young adult, I immediately noticed a difference in the way many of my students were growing up. Only a handful of them spent time outside regularly, and it wasn’t very much. They didn’t climb, didn’t dig, and demonstrated extreme uncertainty about anything involving mud or bugs. This only seemed to worsen with each new class, year after year. They seemed to be losing touch with basic concepts my generation grew up understanding, things like detecting shifts in the weather, the origins of our food sources, or how to look for insects or animal tracks.” – from our blog post, School for the Soul: 3 Ways to Incorporate Nature Study in Your Homeschool
  • #35 – For cattail wands
  • #36 – For the perfect symmetry of wildflowers in July

101 reasons to take your homeschool outside

  • #37 – For splashing in muddy puddles
  • #38 – To learn the private joy of reading all day in a peaceful, sunny patch of grass
  • #39 – For eclipses, meteor showers, rainbows, and constellations

101 reasons to take your homeschool outside

  • #40 – For balancing on logs and skipping stones across a pond
  • #41 – “We have such a brief opportunity to pass on to our children our love for this Earth, and to tell our stories. These are the moments when the world is made whole. In my children’s memories, the adventures we’ve had together in nature will always exist.”  – Richard Louv
  • #42 – For the unmistakeable joy of summer in the woods

101 reasons to take your homeschool outside

  • #43 – Because nature study, unlike other traditional academic studies, places trust in the child’s own observations and interests and gives them permission to point us down the path of their choosing
  • #44 – Because one of the reasons why homeschooling is so wonderful is because we have the freedom to declare when, and where, we will do our learning. If we want to take our reading lesson outside and sprawl out on a blanket under a tree, we can. If we want to use creek stones for our math lesson instead of plastic cubes, we can! If we decide to ditch the science textbook and spend the year gathering and analyzing local rock samples, we can. We have this freedom, and it’s a gift. “Nature studies is one of those subjects where the homeschool magic resides.” – quote from This Whole Home (read the full article, and follow her entire month of nature study inspiration, by clicking here.)
  • #45 – Because practicing copywork in the sand is so much more gratifying than doing it on paper

101 reasons to take your homeschool outside

  • #46 – To learn why the ground cracks in the absence of rain, and to understand the significance of water
  • #47 – For the paddling duck feet in the morning sunshine
  • #48 – “If we want children to flourish, to become truly empowered, then let us allow them to love the earth before we ask them to save it. Perhaps this is what Thoreau had in mind when he said, ‘the more slowly trees grow at first, the sounder they are at the core, and I think the same is true of human beings.'” – David Sobel

101 reasons to take your homeschool outside

  • #49 – Because it’s not just about wilderness–it’s about farmer’s markets, parks, and vacant lots
  • #50 – For horizons, all of the horizons, waiting to be gazed upon in our lifetime
  • #51 – “One day’s exposure to mountains is better than a cartload of books.” – John Muir

101 reasons to take your homeschool outside

  • #52 – For hydrangeas, bigger than our heads, growing on the side of the path in the botanic gardens. And for the explanation of their coloring, based upon the acidity of the soil.
  • #53 – “Must we always teach our children with books? Let them look at the stars and the mountains above. Let them look at the waters and the trees and flowers on Earth. Then they will begin to think, and to think is the beginning of a real education.” – David Polis
  • #54 – For the curious, unidentified insects to be looked up over brownies when you get home

101 reasons to take your homeschool outside

  • #55 – For pockets full of pebbles emptied on the laundry room counter
  • #56 – For sandy cheeks and sandy toes
  • #57 – Outdoor learning provides stimulation of all of the senses, in an endless variety of forms. Children feel the rough sand or the squishy mud between their toes, they feel the changing temperature of the air on their skin as a storm rolls in, they hear the murmur of creeks and the symphony of bird song, and smell the thawing of the warm, sweet earth in spring.

101 reasons to take your homeschool outside

  • #58 – Because there is no better place to engage in STEM / STEAM learning than the great outdoors! “This isn’t a new concept, it’s just that back in the olden days when we were kids, they didn’t call it “STEAM” (or ‘science, technology, engineering, art, and math.’) But we built forts, bridges, and hide-aways none the less. We forged ramps for our bikes, pulleys to get snacks to the top of the tree, and leaf crowns for our heads. We rigged up makeshift roller coasters, launched pinecones with homemade catapults, and sent crude little boats down drainage ditches. Most of us spent our childhood steeped in STEAM outside, from the time the sun came up until the street lights came on.” – from our blog post Take it Outside: Ridiculously Easy STEAM for Nature Play
  • #59 – Because you can learn when you are thirty-five, and on a field trip with your children, that amongst the 300-something pollinators in Colorado, beetles make up the bulk of them–a fact previously unbeknownst to you
  • #60 – For the healing powers of fresh air and sunshine–both for your body and your spirit

101 reasons to take your homeschool outside

  • #61 – To learn to identify the edible plants, and the poisonous ones
  • #62 – “Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons.  It is to grow in the open air, and to eat and sleep with the earth. ” – Walt Whitman
  • #63 – For poetry tea picnics

101 reasons to take your homeschool outside

  • #64 – “New research has shown that exposure to friendly soil bacteria (Mycobacterium Vaccae) stimulates the immune system causing the brain to release serotonin, the endorphin used to regulate mood. ” (Read the full article here.)
  • #65 – “The world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful.” – e.e. cummings
  • #66 – For squishy mud between your toes

101 reasons to take your homeschool outside

  • #67 – For a sun-warmed rock beneath a blue-sky–the perfect perch for cloud-gazing
  • #68 – For climbing and leaping and stacking and digging
  • #69 – Outdoor play provides ample health benefits–from receiving bone-strengthening vitamin D through sunlight to stress release to improving vision. According to the CDC, children should spend a minimum of 60 minutes a day being active, dispersed among aerobic activities (like running), bone-strengthening activities (like jumping), and muscle-building activities (like climbing.) Playing outdoors combines all of these in a very organic way and is one of the easiest ways to get those 60+ minutes into your daily routine.

101 reasons to take your homeschool outside

  • #70 – To stand on top of a mountain range and imagine what it must have been like when it was formed
  • #71 – To wonder at the knowledge that you’re standing where a sea once stood
  • #72 – Because learning numbers with signs puts an abstract concept into a personal context

101 reasons to take your homeschool outside

  • #73 – For the marvelous discovery of beaver teeth-marks on a familiar stump, and to suddenly realize that the dam they built supports the fish, the deer, the birds, and the plants in the meadow you know so well
  • #74 – For creek talks with your best friend in the wide world
  • #75 – Being in nature inspires thoughts about how things work and fit together in a system. It prompts questions and curiosity, quietly guiding children to wonder, investigate, ask, experiment, and learn.

101 reasons to take your homeschool outside

  • #76 – For sticks–Nature’s perfect, open-ended toy
  • #77 – For sidewalk chalk instead of pencils, pavement instead of worksheets
  • #78 – It fosters creativity and imagination. Outdoor play is often unstructured and unscripted–children are free to let their imaginations run the show. This develops their creativity on multiple levels and enhances their ability to problem-solve, work cooperatively with one another, make use of the resources they have on hand, and visualize the steps it will take to meet a goal.

101 reasons to take your homeschool outside

  • #79 – For the midsummer hum of insects
  • #80 – For the many smells of spring trees in bloom
  • #81 – For the private joy of deep immersion in a sea of green

101 reasons to take your homeschool outside

  • #82 – For found feathers
  • #83 – For chubby hands grasping perfect, hand-picked bouquets
  • #84 – The act of gathering natural materials is intrinsic to a child, and full of learning opportunities. They learn to notice the similarities and the differences between the objects they have gathered, and every one of them is a treasure.

101 reasons to take your homeschool outside

  • #85 – For empathy for living things, and the knowledge that everything in nature touches everything else–we are not apart from it. This knowledge is learned through touch and observation, it cannot be taught from books or worksheets.
  • #86 – “Look!  Look!  Look deep into nature and you will understand everything.” – Albert Einstein
  • #87 – Being in nature teaches our children responsibility. They learn that their actions affect everything around them. If part of your outdoor learning involves gardening or caring for animals, they also quickly learn that living things have needs that must be met in order to thrive.

101 reasons to take your homeschool outside

  • #88 – For braiding grass into bracelets
  • #89 – For finding faces in the bark patterns of trees
  • #90 – For collections–leaf collections, rock collections, seed collections, shell collections

101 reasons to take your homeschool outside

  • #91 – For fiddlehead ferns
  • #92 – For new life as it springs forward into the world and old life as it drops its seeds upon the ground, for beginnings and endings being equally significant, and for the understanding that there is not one without the other
  • #93 – Nature is full of math–fibonacci spirals, cycles, patterns, vast equations explaining everything from the cellular level to the faces of mountains–so it makes good sense to build your foundation of mathematical understanding by immersing yourself in nature. It’s her her native tongue, after all.

101 reasons to take your homeschool outside

  • #94 – For shoeboxes full of interesting rocks
  • #95 – For the sound of shale when you scramble across it
  • #96 – For the myriad lessons in a rotting log

101 reasons to take your homeschool outside

  • #97 – Because there’s nothing like a bath when you’ve spent the day running amuck, sweaty and dusty and exhausted with joy
  • #98 – For lichens and moss
  • #99 – For sunsets and sunrises

101 reasons to take your homeschool outside

  • #100 – “To stand at the edge of the sea, to sense the ebb and flow of the tides, to feel the breath of a mist moving over a great salt marsh, to watch the flight of shore birds that have swept up and down the surf lines of the continents for untold thousands of years, to see the running of the old eels and the young shad to the sea, is to have knowledge of things that are as nearly eternal as any earthly life can be.” – Rachel Carson
  • #101 – Because someday your child will sit down to write about how profoundly their nature-filled childhood affected them and conjure memory after memory of you giving them that gift. Memory after memory of you spending time with them, exploring the world together. And they’ll want to pass that on–that joy and that wonder and that glorious education received at the knobby rooted ankles of trees, the sun-warmed lap of the meadow, and the whispering guidance of the creek.

101 reasons homeschool

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101 reasons to incorporate nature study, open-ended play outside, and wilderness in your homeschool. From preschool to kindergarten to elementary years, middle school, and high school--all homeschooled children (and all children) benefit from time spent outside.

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