Outdoor Play: Essential to our Homeschool!
First of all, have you heard our happy news from earlier this week? We finalized adoption of our two youngest kids! That’s exciting, of course, but today’s post is about how outdoor play helps our homeschool — and keeps this mama sane!
Outside time improves moods!
A couple of weeks ago, we got a new playset. Our old one was literally falling down. Since we got that one free years ago, we couldn’t complain; however, when I found a playset place selling their demo sets at a huge discount, we decided it was worth forgoing a new shower to get this. Plus, it felt appropriate to celebrate the upcoming adoption day! Of course it’s not necessary to have something like this for the kids to enjoy outdoor play, but it sure does help encourage them to stay outside. There have been days, now that the weather is not so sweltering, when they’ve played outside 5 hours or more!
We’ve discovered that outside play helps everyone’s mood. On days when we play outside, the kids are better behaved because this is a natural, healthy way to expend an abundance of energy. Outdoor time has been proven to help reduce depression — and the color green (grass! trees!) has even been shown to increase creativity! Kathryn has learned this; when she’s feeling crafty but running low on inspiration, she’ll seek some outside time, or at the very least spend some time looking out her window at the trees and such.
Even on a somewhat busy day, if I sense the grumpies creeping in, I send the kids out to run and play for at least a few minutes. I usually follow them out with a cup of tea in hand because time in nature helps my own sanity as well.
Unplanned nature study abounds!
Just this week, the kids have watched cicadas — and even saw a “cicada killer” wasp catch its prey! They’ve collected leaves, and observed butterflies and bees and lady bugs. They’ve laid on their backs in the play set and looked up at the trees. Scout and Jem can already identify some of the many birds in our yard. Hummingbirds frequent our feeder on the back porch, and we all enjoy watching them.
Of course, there’s always WonderDog to study, too!
We do a few things indoors, too!
We’ve been easing into homeschooling the past few weeks, and introducing new things a little at a time. Two weeks ago, I started adding in poetry. Every morning before we do our morning board, I read a couple of poems aloud. They love it. It’s entirely new to Scout and Jem. I have a number of poetry books on our shelves, but the one currently getting the most use is The Random House Book of Poetry for Children. It’s a happy collection of child-friendly (but not twaddle-ish) poems.
I’ve wanted to do some sort of poetry study with Kathryn, too. Nothing too formal, but more than just random reading of poems. Thanks to my cousin Jonnia, I discovered Royal Fireworks Press curriculum and decided to try Building Poems. I’m enamored with it. Long ago I used to attempt to write poetry (Jonnia still does), and this is inspiring me to want to give it another try. We’re not far into it, so I can’t fully speak for it yet, but I’ll share more as we’re further in.
Kathryn’s concert band class has begun, and we also started Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology. So far we’re still enjoying our Georgia state history, and have plans for all sorts of field trips this year. Even a little trip to a nearby town square earlier this week provided a bit of local history!
Best year yet.
I am more excited about this homeschool year than I have been in — well, maybe ever. Having Scout and Jem involved takes it to a whole new level. I don’t anticipate this year being easy, but there are so very many things to look forward to. For example, days that look like this: