Nature Walks: Four Surprising Benefits of Outdoor Exploration for Children

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Playing outside is an extremely important part of childhood. The benefits of the outdoors for building a child’s imagination and encouraging their development are immeasurable. While independent play is wonderful, it can also be beneficial to spend time as a family in nature.

Taking nature walks with your children is a fun way to spend time together while also teaching them more about the world around them. Nature walks can take place in so many different locations. Trails through the woods, nature preserves, parks, strolls down the road, and even your own backyard can all be great places for walking in the great outdoors.

Reasons to Take Nature Walks With Your Kids

Exercise

Hiking up hills, jumping over puddles, and lifting up rocks or logs are just a few of many ways children exert themselves in nature. Furthermore, walking for long distances builds endurance and shows children what they are capable of.

Our culture is becoming more and more sedentary. Most children spend hours a day sitting inside or in front of screens. This is so detrimental to our children’s overall health. Taking nature walks with your children teaches them that exercise can be fun. Being outdoors is a perfect way for families to stay healthy and strong together.

 

Educational Opportunities

The new things children experience while out enjoying nature make great learning opportunities. Take the time to teach your children the names of different plants, birds, and trees for example. Discuss any interesting things you happen upon.

Trust me on this, your children will be very inquisitive and interested in nature when encouraged to take a deeper look. If you don’t know the answer to their questions, turn it into a chance to learn together. Show them how to research their questions by reading books on the topic or by doing an internet search. The possibilities for education are endless.

As a homeschooling mom, I consider nature walks to be an important part of our science curriculum. Read this article if you are interested in what the rest of my homeschool curriculum looks like. Nature journals are a tool I use to make our nature walks more educational.

Nature journals allow children to record their observations and recall the things that stood out to them. We incorporate nature journals in a few different ways. My children often choose a small object to bring home and sketch. I will also encourage them to draw things they remember seeing on our walk.

These nature journals from Twig and Moth are amazing because they work for children of all ages. There is a place to write the date, location, and weather as well as sections to jot down notes and observations. This makes them perfect for older children who are learning to write or writing well. Even if they cannot write yet, there is a lot of room for drawing pictures of what they observed. Nature journals are wonderful for developing the skills of observation, analysis, and reflection.

Quality Time

Life is always busy and it can be easy to lose track of what is truly important. Family is at the top of my list but it takes a conscious effort on my part to set apart uninterrupted time with them. Making the effort to spend more quality time with your children is something you will never regret doing. Obviously there are many ways to spend time together but taking nature walks is a great family activity.

All the things that distract from quality time together throughout the day fade into the background when you are out in nature. There are no dishes in sight, no laundry to fold, and no toys littering the floor. You can focus on devoting all your time to conversations and discoveries with your children.

Taking an hour, or even thirty minutes, to walk together on a regular basis is something that will help build a stronger relationship with your child. I can see the difference in my children’s behavior when I have taken the time to give them my full attention.

Building Confidence

Unstructured time in nature helps children develop problem solving skills and builds their confidence. Self-esteem is increased when children are allowed to make choices and discoveries on their own. As parents, we strive to teach our kids to be confident and capable. Going on nature walks is a great opportunity to encourage them to work on these skills.

Allow your child to take the lead on your nature walks. Let them set the pace, choose which path to follow, and make frequent stops when they find something interesting. Give them positive reinforcement when they make new discoveries or accomplish a difficult task.

 

The reasons to spend time in nature are endless. These are a few more benefits in addition to the ones I already covered:

  • Inspires creativity
  • Creates an awareness of the environment we live in
  • Exercises the use of all five senses (smelling the flowers, gazing at the clouds, touching the bark of a tree, etc)
  • Brings a sense of calm and serenity

 I encourage you to start taking nature walks with your children and experience the amazing benefits for yourself.

 

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