One of my favorite things to do is to spend time together as a family in nature. I have always been more peaceful, present and calm when I am outdoors. I have an easier time staying focused with the kids when we are at a park, on a hike or in our backyard. These things are always easier for me during the summer months.
One of my core values as a mom is to instill a love of learning and exploration in our children. Our time in nature this summer has been spent exploring and learning through play. For the most part when we are outside and not focused on reading or doing some work in notebooks, I follow their lead. I don’t have an agenda. Kids are natural learners and their minds are brilliant sponges craving knowledge and information, so simply following their lead, staying present with them and answering their questions becomes a whole lesson in itself. Seeing a tree and its big beautiful leaves can turn into an entire conversation (depending on which kid and their age) on science. Building a tower out of twigs and branches becomes a great opportunity to work well with others as a team.
When we are outside, they are also getting major gross motor activity. Gross motor or BIG movements like jumping, climbing, running are crucial for forming many of the neural synapses that are needed before the brain is ready for fine motor activities (writing, drawing, etc). When our kids are playing, running and jumping, I don’t see it simply as playing. I see them exercising their brains and growing these incredible pathways that will help them succeed.
As we transition into Fall, we will continue these outdoor activities, but also get creative with more indoor opportunities and options for chillier mornings. We’ll take fun educational games from the closet, stock up during our weekly library trips since we’ll be going through more books and start planning for adventures to museums and other indoor educational venues.
I must admit I get a bit of agita thinking about more time indoors. Like any kids, ours have lots of energy and need to move their bodies. This Fall, since we will be spending more time together, I plan on investing in some good layers and foul weather gear so the weather doesn’t limit our options. Biddle and Bop (https://www.biddleandbop.com) is one of my all-time favorite online stores for outdoor gear for kids. Their rain gear is absolutely incredible and pretty cute too! I was first introduced to this company when we took our kids to Forest School. If you haven’t heard of Forest School and you are homeschooling, I highly recommend you check it out. Forest School is an outdoor gathering of kids and their parents in the woods focused on personal, social and technical skills. Our first time to Forest School was a few years ago and on that day the weather was a bit yuck and rainy. We went anyway and when we got there, we joined about twenty kids all in their adorable rain gear and boots sloshing around looking for frogs, playing in the leaves, running, laughing etc. Eventually they all come together for a snack and some down time on a large picnic blanket. Our kids loved it and so did I.
As we transition to Fall, our daily rhythm will be similar to the summer — slow mornings, reading and snuggling, some workbooks and then outdoor play. We will also have indoor options at the ready for when we need them. I will definitely focus on myself a bit more (ahem, work in progress) and fill my tank however and whenever I can as Fall tends to be a time when I overdo things and forget about me. On the busy days my “me time” may simply mean waking a bit earlier so I can slowly sip my coffee alone, or it may mean sleeping in a bit and slowing down.
Whatever it is, I will do my best and take each day as a new adventure.