Each year, winter keeps everyone stuck inside, especially in frigid northern climates. The days turn into weeks, and weeks become months, and over time, you and your kids develop the all-too-familiar “cabin fever,” not to mention all of the time spent inside doing schoolwork, even during warmer months. The fact is, too much time spent indoors, no matter the time of year, has a negative impact on health, learning, and even socialization.
An experiment by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) showed that 81 percent of participants saw an increase in creativity after simply taking a walk outside. Creativity isn’t just a part of art class; it’s an important foundational building block for critical thinking in every subject.
There are lots of fun activities for you and your kids to do outdoors that will spark their creativity and help them to learn at the same time:
1. Study a nature topic. This can be anything that you can find outdoors: a type of insect, a plant, or something even bigger, like a pond or river.
2. Learn how to follow a map. There are many different ways to enjoy this activity–you can either find a local map and have your kids safely navigate a small area, or you can make your own map!
3. Collect materials from outside to make crafts with later. One fun idea is to collect fallen leaves and use them as stamps. All you have to do is paint one side of the leaf in any color you like, press the painted side onto a piece of paper, and carefully lift it off to reveal the little details of the leaf.
4. Learn how to use an outdoor tool. Whether it be binoculars, a magnifying glass, or even a compass, learning how to use a new tool is a perfect excuse to step outside and explore nature!
5. Plan a scavenger hunt. A great way to incorporate learning into this fun activity is to find things in your child’s textbook that he or she can search for outside.
6. Find props to tell a short story. Spontaneity is key here–simply venture outside to see what neat objects your kids can find to bring back and create their own short story based on what they found. This can be a written or oral story.
Have you ever noticed your kids getting moody or short-fused when they’ve been cooped up inside for a long time? That’s because they may need some physical exertion. Endorphins are scientifically proven to improve moodiness and are released every time we do any physical activity. They are vital to your child’s overall well-being.
The number of ways your kids can stay active during the day is seemingly endless! Encourage your kids to play a game of catch or kickball in the backyard or to use sidewalk chalk to draw a game of hopscotch on the driveway. While your kids are outside improving their moods, they are also getting a healthy dose of vitamin D from the sun’s UV rays. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium in the bones and is scarcely found in food, so the sun is their best source.
Socialization and Community
Winter can be isolating for everyone, even adults. Being outside is freeing. Playgrounds and outdoor group settings can be a welcome change in the spring months for homeschooled kids because there’s an opportunity to engage with other children in an open environment. They can play hide and seek or capture the flag, swing together on the swing set, or even bring along a picnic, all while socializing with children their age.
If the park has an open green area, bring your school materials along for lessons after playtime. If you’re part of a co-op, the school day could be completely outside in the green area, with playground breaks in between subjects.
Make time this spring to enjoy the warm sun, blooming flowers, fresh air, and all of the amazing sounds of nature. Whether you choose to have school outdoors, enjoy more playtime, or complete fun activities to learn more about nature, every opportunity spent outside has unparalleled benefits for boosting your child’s creativity, learning, mood, and overall well-being. Take advantage of the perks of homeschooling outside this year, and remind your children of how glorious God’s creation really is.