Whether you have neurotypical kids or children with learning disabilities, the outdoors is one of the best places to learn life lessons. The great outdoors is more than a simple place to play this summer. It’s a fantastic and delightful time that every kid needs to experience.
Time spent in nature is never a dull moment. Every small action is a teachable moment that can provide valuable lessons that kids can bring later in life. Here are ten lessons to learn from the outdoors this summer that kids can get.
1. Living In The Moment
Time is precious. It’s often said that tomorrow is not a guarantee. However, it is a constant reminder to live in the moment. An outdoor environment is excellent for kids to learn how to do just that. Whether kids spend time at a cozy and colorful play gym or in a forest, appreciating the moment is valuable.
Even the smallest of insects can be captured in a magnifying glass. While watching a ladybug move across a plant leaf, we can learn to enjoy life at the moment. The time kids spend outside is the perfect opportunity to enjoy the little things as much as the big events.
The wilderness is a vast and expansive area. We must trust that there will be something around the next corner to explore. Snowshoeing, hiking, and canoeing are great ways to encourage kids to step outside their comfort zones.
Trust is an essential part of childhood development. While we can’t always control what our children do, we can take them places that will help instill that sense of confidence. The outdoor space is the perfect place to do that – for them to trust others and build lasting bonds.
A playground can be overrated, and the great outdoors is the best place to push your child into discovery. The forest floor is full of bugs, flowers, and treasures, while the beach is filled with all kinds of fascinating creatures.
The beauty and wonder of nature are endless. It presents learning opportunities to children of all ages. Rather than spending time indoors, take your kids on an adventure. Let them discover the world but make sure to protect them. Sunscreen for sun protection and eye drops to prevent dry eyes should make everything simpler.
4. Self Reliance
The wild world can teach us a valuable skill: self-sufficiency. Hiking, camping, and fishing are great ways to get back to basics. It’s impossible to make extravagant meals outdoors, so this allows children to enjoy what little they can get from fishing, foraging, and more.
While nature isn’t always easy, it does provide an excellent opportunity for self-reliance. Outdoor exploration involves confidence that the kids have in themselves. They become self-reliant as they learn how to conquer obstacles while building self-esteem and confidence.
Teamwork is a critical part of child development. Developing that skill at a young age is essential. Having kids who know how to work with a team gives them more leverage in day-to-day life.
The teamwork skills learned while camping or taking a hike will translate into school, university, and the workplace. Working together to build a sand castle, collect shells, or build a driftwood sculpture are examples of teamwork. Team-building activities help children learn the value of helping others.
The distractions that are a part of modern life are numerous. Technology, TV, and the internet are constantly present in children’s lives. They might not realize it, but the more they use those devices, the less attention they pay to the world around them.
The vastness of the world is a big distraction. The quiet of the forest is a scary thought. The beauty of the ocean is blinding. These are just a few reasons why teaching our kids how to focus becomes essential, as it can help them conquer the outdoors rather than letting it overcome them.
7. Social Skills
Social skills are a valuable part of life. They help us connect and communicate with others. Although we don’t intentionally teach them, social skills are vital to a child’s life.
The friendships they build while out in the wilderness are meaningful and long-lasting. The time spent away from technology encourages them to communicate.
Empathy is a lifelong trait. It’s not something that we can put in a box. A child that lacks empathy doesn’t understand why it is important to respect other people, their belongings, and their feelings.
The experience of being out in the wild can encourage us to slow down, appreciate the world around us, and empathize with it. The things that we don’t see are easily taken for granted.
9. Climate Awareness
Climate change is real. It affects all aspects of our lives – food, water, housing, and everything. The climate of the planet is changing, and while the science behind it is complex, there’s one fact Everything we do impacts the environment.
Spending more time in the fresh air, especially out in the woods, can help open our eyes to our problems. Kids don’t have to think too hard to realize that our actions aren’t without consequences. Learning about climate change through first-hand experience is an invaluable lesson.
10. Disability Awareness
Having a disability isn’t the end of the world; it can be an eye-opening experience for many people. The things we can do with relatively little effort are remarkable. The cool thing about people with disabilities is that they show us what can be accomplished with a positive mindset.
Regular trips to an outdoor play area can highlight the abilities of children with disabilities. It also shows that it isn’t just them that can achieve great things.
Going through the experience of being out in nature and spending time with someone with a disability allows children to understand their limitations.
The time kids spend outside can be one of the best moments throughout their life. The adventures your children take outdoors in the summer can shape the people they become. The outdoors develops life skills while learning to appreciate the natural world.
Getting them out of the house, away from the TV and video games, and into the real world is always good. No matter what happens, let them have fun and enjoy the summer.
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This article is a contributor post! Katie Pierce is a teacher/writer, and she’s been doing some freelance writing while teaching awesome (but often hyper) preschool kids.