About This Fun Project
For the last 6 months, I’ve been sharing my family’s journey into a simplified, garden-centric lifestyle. It’s been a blast! And by ‘blast’, I mean a ton of hard work with lots of rewarding experiences. One of the unexpected joys of consistently showing up and sharing our life on The ‘Gram, is the amazing community of strong, supportive women that are have quickly become my friends. So, when a few other mamas that I totally adore and respect asked me to join in sharing some tips for engaging with our kids during this back to school season, I was thrilled to say yes!
Back to School
School so far in 2020 has been anything but normal. For a lot of us it won’t be going back to normal any time soon. Whether you kids are homeschooling, are virtual learners, or if they’re headed back to the classroom, this will be a time of change and adjustment. Finding ways to connect with your kids in uncertain times is huge for them! To help that happen, I’m sharing 5 tips (and benefits) of using nature to engage with your children this school year.
5 Tips for Children’s Wellness
1. Kick off Your Shoes
I know, I know, you’re probably constantly telling your kids to put their shoes on, but don’t miss the chance to run barefoot in the garden. Walking barefoot in the grass or soil is a really great way to strengthen the immune system and support a healthy micro-biome and an electric reconnection to the soil. Often referred to as ‘grounding’ or ‘earthing’, going barefoot or putting your hands in the dirt is really, truly, good for your health.
When’s the last time you went barefoot in the dirt? Been a while? Now might be the perfect time for a game of tag, soccer, or making some mud pies together. The exercise, the sunshine, and the dirt between your toes will do great things for those little scholars, all while binding your hearts together.
2. Go Easy on the Eyes
I’ve never been great at math, so I like easy numbers. Here’s a numerical principle that’s easy to remember. 20/20/20. Every 20 minutes, take at least a 20-second break, to focus your eyes on something more than 20 feet away. With kids spending so much time with books, or even worse, screens at such a young age, myopia is becoming a serious problem for youngsters. During study time, encourage your students to take periodic breaks to look out the windows and let those eyes rest.
Even more importantly, when the school day is done, head outdoors for far-sighted family time. There’s no shortage of outdoor activities that build family bonds and preserve those precious eyes. Need some help thinking of what to do out there? Here’s just a few easy to do activities:
- Bird Watching (My daughter’s favorite)
- Fort Building
- Track & Trail (My childhood favorite)
The last things our kids need after a day in the books, is more isolation and screen time. While it’s tempting to hand them the tablet when they get home, try doing something that opens their eyes to a the non-virtual world around them.
3. Increased Attention Span
We’re on an addictive diet of stimulation. Things have to be more and more intense and exciting to grab our attention. The simple things in life lose their appeal next to TikTok and Avengers. With more and more school content being delivered via video, the mundane reality of real life leaves many looking for more stimulation and missing out on the quiet joys all around us. Studies have shown a correlation between highly stimulating input and length of attention span.
When children spend more time with simple surroundings, the attention span has its best chance to grow. Sticks, rocks, plants, simple tools, animals, all make for an ideal environment. There’s no better place than the garden, a creek, or the forest to get lost in the simplicity.
4. Labor of Love
With such a big emphasis on academic achievement, kids’ brains are working really hard. The problem is that the brain is only 1 of 78 organs in the human body. Matching physical activity with book learning in a 1:1 ratio is a recipe for success. Why not take on a service project that requires some physical activity to complement their literary studies. Here’s an example of how our family has brought this tip to life:
In the spring, when we planned out our garden, we dedicated several beds to grow flowers. The kids helped us pick out the seeds we wanted, till up the soil, plant, water, and weed the beds. The thrill of seeing our first Cosmo blossom open up was so exciting! It didn’t take long until the Zinnias, Larkspur, and Sunflowers were blooming. Every weekend we fill up-cycled pickle jars with gorgeous fresh-cut flowers. Giving away our bouquets has been so rewarding! We can’t wait to grow even more flowers next year.
5. Build Character
Nature is an antagonist. Countless stories have been written about man vs. nature. If you’ve ever had a leaf-footed beetle infestation, you know exactly how it feels. Growing a garden, going camping, raising chickens, mountain biking, and even dog training are all challenging. There are many uncontrollable variables. It’s in the trials and hardships when things don’t go as expected that we get to grow.
Nature will give your little ones so many opportunities to face unexpected challenges. For example, hiking to the top of the mountain when their legs are ‘too tired’. Setting up a tent in the rain. Breaking up the hard dry ground to start a garden. These are the hardships and trials that our children don’t need to be sheltered from. The satisfaction of taking on and completing a task that felt too big is priceless. This is where a healthy sense of self-accomplishment is built, in the trenches of a natural environment.
Is there a challenge awaiting you and your student out there? Go on and take it on. Encourage them along the way, but don’t take away the blessing of character development that comes with the struggle.
If the above 5 tips for children’s wellness were right up your ally, then you can find even more great related content by follow the other Instagram accounts that participated in this collaboration: