How can we take our homeschooling on the trail and still be sure they’re learning? We incorporate nature and learning! Whether you home school or want to simply enhance learning while on the trail, here are things we’ve learned or practiced to make sure we’re all learning on the trail.
As we explore nature and the outdoors, we strengthen everyday skills like counting, learning colors, matching, math, and naming and identifying objects.
We learn about the planet and its geology and ecology, such as rotation of the planets, tectonic plate theory weather patterns, land forms, logging industry, water cycle and local insect life.
We further trail education by making it personal and teaching values that encourage appreciation of nature and compassion for self, others and the planet. Some of the lessons include trail manners and common courtesy; balance, physical and metaphorical; jumping and exploring; spirituality; meditation; and awareness of self and others.
Lesson planning for the outdoors
When planning lessons, the best plan is have no plan. Yes, you read that right: Zero.
We found very quickly that if we, as parents and adults, let go of time limitations while hiking, we had more time for learning. When we let go of the “Let’s make it to the end of the hike” mentality, we gained valuable question and answer time … also known as learning. Learning was happening and they were begging to know more.
We changed our focus to really hearing the kids’ questions instead of dismissing them. We watched them for areas of interest and let them lead us to the learning.
This new way of “hiking” actually gave us less walking time and more exploring time.
Now you might wonder, “But you never finished another hike, right? They explored all your hiking time away.” Sometimes, yes. But this slowing down of time actually allowed us to hustle when we wanted.
Our general rule is the first time to a hike, we keep good pace to the “end,” whatever that may be. A waterfall, picnic spot, creek to play in, view, etc. After that? We decide as a family before even leaving what areas of a hike we plan to explore. These plans are, of course, fluid with each one creating a completely different learning, hiking and exploring experience.
Chances are your kids are learning on the trail
Our kids provide a unique way to learn and explore — how can we encourage them by asking more questions? And as we explore the questions together, how are we learning and growing together?
Are you a homeschooling family? What learning opportunities are you finding on the trail? Comment below!
Photos courtesy of Jenyfer Patton.
- Taking Learning Outdoors: Preschool Gets a Makeover
- Nature Based Scavenger Hunts, your new hiking friend
- Taking the classroom outside for the Hike it Baby 30 Challenge
What conversations have the trails spurred in your kids? Let us know in the comments.