Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Taking It Outside: Having Class Time Outdoors

One of the best things about homeschooling is that your child can learn any time, any where.

We've been fortunate the last few days to have the most beautiful weather imaginable. El otoño is right around the corner, so to celebrate, we cut short the amount of time we spent studying indoors, and took our classroom outside. In fact, moving school outside has some definite advantages.

Messy or big projects are nothing to worry about when you have a yard full of grass or a nice big patio to move around. It's so nice to break free from the confinement of a desk or table every once in a while. And little spills don't create major problems, like stains on the floor!

We generally take one or two breaks during the course of our morning. Sometimes I send the kids out to play and other times I keep toys around for imaginative play. But outside there's time for a quick game of tag, soccer, swinging, tree climbing, bike riding, exploring...the list is endless. And getting the kids back in focus is easier when they don't have to actually go back inside, thereby leaving the beauty of their natural setting.

In addition, I find the outdoor class time to be more inspiring for my daughter. Her observations of our natural world spark her curiosity. For example, when discussing the scientific method, she's much more likely to come up with questions about the world around her than she is when she is sitting at the dining room table or her desk. Story time is also more elaborate. I don't know if it is the fresh air, the sunlight, the movement of wildlife around her, or a combination of it all. But her eyes sparkle and she seems more focused when we spend time learning outdoors.

Changing the setting also helps to make class time a teensy bit more fun. And their involvement becomes more enthusiastic as a result of their happiness to break free from the "normal" routine.

So to liven up your classroom a bit, consider some of the following:

• Spend your reading time snuggled up in the rocker on your front porch.

• Spice up math time by allowing your child to solve addition problems under the big oak tree in your yard... using acorns as counters.

• Explore the concepts of standard and non-standard measurement by letting your son practice measuring steps, flowerbeds, plants, or patio furniture.

• Discuss the idea of an aerial, or "bird's eye," view by having your child draw a map of your yard that includes landscape features.

• Use a hopscotch grid to learn about even and odd numbers.

• Allow your child to lay on a blanket for however long it takes to write a story or poem about whatever comes to their mind.

¿Qué dices? You live in an apartment on the 47th floor? No worries. Get out the backpack and make a field trip to your local park. Your child will love the adventure of it all - especially if you include a picnic lunch!

Winter will be here in the blink of an eye. Take advantage of the time you have now to foster in your child a love of the outdoors. Not only does it awaken the scientist within, but it also paves the road for a healthy lifestyle that embraces physical activity.

Con mucho cariño...