Let nature be your teacher ~ William Wordsworth
In the northern hemisphere, the leaves are already beginning to change color. Trees are displaying variegated leaves of greens, yellows, browns, reds, and oranges. When I step outside, I notice the air is getting chillier and has a familiar smell; hello autumn!
Autumn is a perfect time to go on a family nature walk. The tree lined trails and twisty park paths beckon your family to tread on them. In fact, nature beckons to teach your children.
It is scientifically proven that kids that spend time in nature reap resounding rewards.
Below are the benefits a family nature walk bestows including increasing your child’s literacy skills:
During a nature walk, if your children are like mine, they ask lots of questions. While you answer the questions and discuss all the amazing creations you encounter on your walk, you increase your child’s vocabulary as well as their background knowledge. Both are essential to be successful at reading and writing.
During your family nature walk, your children touch and talk. They touch leaves, flowers, bark, and soil. The simple act of touching is tactile learning which helps them make connections to objects when you read aloud to them about those same objects.
(In fact, one time I was reading a story with a 4th grade child. He read a sentence about rustling and crunching leaves. He was puzzled. He didn’t know what rustling and crunching leaves sounded like because he had never experienced it. Guess what I did? You got it. We immediately went outside and walked through some leaves so he could connect the vocabulary to an experience. I think he will never forget what rusting and crunching leaves mean or sound like.)
A family nature walk inspires your child to read about nature.
Outdoor environments stimulate positive child development more than indoor play. In turn, research shows that children in contact with nature score higher on tests.
Children that spend a significant time in nature have been proven to have more self-discipline. Additionally, children with symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are better able to concentrate after contact with nature. With self-discipline and better focus comes the ability to learn to read.
Children who engage in nature such as going on a family nature walk show more advanced motor fitness including coordination, balance and agility, and they are sick less often.
Being in nature provides a sense of wonder and awe thereby producing positive emotions which result in feeling refreshed from fresh air. These positive feeling are produced by endorphins that enable your child to feel great about learning.
Children that spend time in nature have positive feelings about others which reduces bullying.
A nature walk melts stress and connects your family to each other.
I grew up in an era before cell phones and iPads. In fact, my mom made us play outside for hours and hours. I have fond memories of going on family nature walks. I also remember playing outside with the neighbor kids creating imaginary places and potions.
After compiling this list of benefits, I can attest that I’m so thankful for those “good ‘ole days”. I got dirty. I created. I imagined. I played. I learned and my literacy skills soared. Now, as a mom, I want the same for my kids.
With all these amazing benefits, I’m ready to go take my kids on a family nature walk right now. Are you with me?
Pamela Hall is a mom, educator, and the founder of Literate For Life. Their mission is to educate, encourage, and empower people, particularly children, to be literate for life through their blog community and relevant, applicable seminars and programs.
Photo credit: sheknows.com