Are you an indoorsy or outdoorsy type of person? I ask because this may impact on your child’s education and actually your whole family’s well being.
I’ve walked pretty much every day this year – whatever the weather and despite this rubbish Spring we’re having. I’m an outdoor obsessive, you see, need the light and definitely a sun junkie, but I’ll go out whatever it’s like. Because if I don’t’ I know there are serious repercussions.
There are serious repercussions for the kids too as studies are beginning to show. But even before I understood all that, I’d get out with the kids because it magically changed our days.
There’s a story in my book ‘A Home Education Notebook’ called The Outdoor Miracle which tells of the day we were all cloistered in the house annoying each other. So ignoring the intense resistance I managed to get the children out for a walk despite the unappealing weather. And the miracle happened; everything changed. Sulks turned to smiles. Aggressive moods turned to co-operation. Grisling turned to singing. And when we got back in the house we brought in with us a renewed and as invigorating an approach as the fresh air in our lungs.
And I’m so glad I did it – and made it a habit. Because research is now coming to light to show the monumental impact being outside, connected to nature, can have. Being connected to nature not only improves physical development, it improves mental, spiritual and emotional development too, the lack of which is bound to impact on learning progress.
I’ve just read a fascinating book called ‘Biophilia’. Biophilia is a term that’s been adopted to describe the innate human need to be connected to nature in one form or another. And that we need this connection not only to survive, but also in order to thrive. The book illustrates how we can make these connections through the way we live, work, arrange our homes, recreation, design communities and attend to our health.
It’s now understood that there is a direct link between nature and well being. Making periods of time to be out in the light directly connected to nature, whether that’s a walk in the park, being around animals, playing in a forest, field, beach or hill, having a pet, gardening. planting, making mud pies, whatever – has an impact. These activities can improve concentration and memory, reduce anxiety and depression, moderate behaviour and emotions and dramatically improve stress levels (all the more reason for you to get out there too).
Conversely, the absence of attending to this need is creating conditions in children, like ADHD for example or behaviours associated with autism, which inhibit their well being, inhibit confidence, develops fear about being outdoors and in nature, and consequently inhibits their potential to learn and progress, both academically and personally.
So despite your resistance – and theirs, especially in challenging weather – it is still vitally important that you find ways to get outside and connect with nature as much as you can – fair weather or foul. Keep doing it until it feels more natural to be out than in. This way you will be bestowing untold benefits on your family and your children’s health and education.
I know it’s not always that appealing and Spring is so fickle, throwing conditions at us better suited to January, but you really cannot afford to be a fair weather educator!