Explore the Outdoors and Learn!
It may not come as a surprise that spending time in nature reduces stress and anxiety. But did you know that it can also help kids focus and learn? Studies have shown that taking a walk in nature improves peoples’ moods, raises short-term memory test scores, and even increases concentration levels in children with ADHD. In one experiment, teachers holding lessons in nature noted far fewer interruptions from students than when the same lessons were taught indoors. Nature’s benefits are endless. Take advantage of them with these four tips.
Bring the outside world inside.
Research has shown that natural environments improve children’s ability to focus and learn. However, if you live in a city or are experiencing inclement weather, you may not be able to spend much time in nature itself. Why not bring nature indoors, instead? Create an atmosphere that is more conducive to learning by incorporating plants and encouraging the use of natural light in your kids’ study area. Adding just a little bit of greenery can brighten your kids’ moods and even improve their health.
Integrate learning with nature.
Turn the natural world around you into a learning opportunity. Do your kids enjoy gardening? Encourage your little ones to count out the seeds needed for a planting and see how many colors they can identify in your flower garden. Older kids can learn about volume by filling planting containers with soil or can help plan out a large vegetable garden by calculating the perimeter and area needed to accommodate all of your plants. The learning opportunities are endless!
Math is everywhere in nature—even in plants themselves. Take the Fibonacci sequence, for example. The Fibonacci sequence is a numerical pattern that begins with 0 and 1, continuing its sequence with the sum of the previous two numbers (0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34…), and is found almost everywhere in the natural world. You can find the pattern in the florets of a sunflower, the branches of a tree, even in the spirals of galaxies. Geometric shapes like triangles, cylinders, arcs, and lines can also be found throughout nature.
Build nature into your children’s learning by selecting and reading books about specific topics such as galaxies, oceans, geology, and plants. Kumon’s Recommended Reading List features books about children exploring nature, such as The Secret Garden and In the Tall, Tall Grass, which will help pique your children’s interest in the natural world.
Opt for a change of scenery
Encourage your children to learn outside. Suggest reading books in the backyard or at a nearby park. By planning ahead, you can spend the entire day learning outside. Pack a picnic, books, and plan some fun outdoor games to play. Whether your kids simply take their Kumon to a park bench or you turn the woods into your own classroom, the trees and fresh air will give your kids’ brains a boost!
Play with nature
Turn your natural surroundings into the setting for a game. Scavenger hunts are a lot of fun, but can also be very educational. Have younger children find objects in every color of the rainbow, like red maple leaves and yellow dandelions. Older kids can identify different types of flowers and trees or even try to find as many examples of the Fibonacci sequence as possible. The opportunities are endless!
Looking for more ways to explore the outdoors? Check out these helpful resources from our friends at PBS Kids. And explore the outdoors along with Jet in four all new episodes of Ready Jet Go! airing on PBS Kids this week!