The Benefits of Outdoor Education
I hate to admit this, but I don’t think my kids spend enough time in the great outdoors. There are days that I must force my kids to play outside. If your kids are anything like mine, being inside all day often leads to complete chaos. This pandemonium could come in the form of arguments, slime covered tables, Netflix binges, Nerf darts whizzing past my head, or little eyes glued to devices.
We all know that there are many benefits to children being outside. When I was growing up it was outside where creative games were invented and social skills were developed. When kids of different ages and genders from the neighborhood were outside, we needed to learn how to ‘figure things out' on our own. Whether that meant deciding on what game to play or settling a small debate, who knew we were learning skills that would benefit us in so many ways in the future? Equally important was the fact that exercise was a necessity if you wanted to keep up with the neighborhood kids during those long summer days or snow-covered days of sledding.
Are you aware of how much time children should spend outside? According to the government website Choose my Plate (www.choosemyplate.gov), children and adolescents ages 6- 17 “should do 60 minutes or more of physical activity each day. Most of the 60 minutes should be either moderate- or vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity, and should include vigorous-intensity physical activity at least three days a week. As part of their 60 or more minutes of daily physical activity, children and adolescents should include muscle-strengthening activities, like climbing, and bone-strengthening activities, like jumping, at least three days a week. Children and adolescents are often active in short bursts of time rather than for sustained periods of time, and these short bursts can add up to meet physical activity needs. Physical activities for children and adolescents should be developmentally appropriate, fun, and offer variety.”
At DCLC, outdoor learning is an integral part of the daily schedule. Last week, the students and guides spent two hours hiking through Green Lane Park. And that was just one day! That mere sentence makes DCLC such a special place. The students craved the time outside and were very engaged as they observed the beautiful surroundings. When a student spotted one of the multitude of insects we came across during our travels, authentic conversations just happened. When someone discovered a hornet’s nest elevated in an enormous tree, the hornet experts in the group shared a variety of facts with their peers. There were discussions about numerous trees and plants, climbing and running on the pirate playground, and glowing smiles when we reached the picturesque waterfall. Overhearing in-depth conversations was an insight into the unique discoveries made that day. Witnessing learning in action as students are having fun is a remarkable experience. Learning and fun can’t be in the same sentence, can they? At DCLC, they sure can!
Our goal is to instill an appreciation of nature in your child. Further, research says it takes 21 days to make a habit. We hope that our hours spent outside also instill healthy lifestyle habits in your children that will lead to a lifetime of better health.
Have a great night!