Spending time outside everyday is so important for children – and for adults too! But even if we know how important it is to play outside, be active, and connect with nature, it doesn’t always happen.
I find it harder to preserve this time as my oldest gets older and we have more projects and lessons that fill our mornings, and more community activities in the afternoons….it’s also difficult in our super long New Hampshire winters!
I want to focus on our outside time as part of our daily and weekly rhythm this month. Any activity is more likely to happen if we plan for it and one of the best ways to make time for a high priority is to make it part of our family rhythm, something we can count on always doing day in and day out.
Will you join me?
Welcome to the November Rhythm Challenge: Go Outside!
This month I want to challenge you to make outside time a steady part of your days and weeks. If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere like I am, this gets more challenging at this time of year. Let’s work on it this month and carry some momentum into the winter months!
Here’s a worksheet for you to download and print (choose color or black/white) so you can write out your own answers to the questions below:
Let’s start with why it matters to you that outside time is a regular part of your family life and homeschooling rhythm.
What’s your motivation for spending time outside?
Here are just a few reasons time out of doors is healthy for growing children:
- Being outside encourages active full-body movement and play
- The opportunities for imagination and creative open-ended play abound outdoors
- Helps limit screen time and too much sitting
- Sunlight is important for good health (even exposure on cloudy days makes a difference)
- An opportunity to develop important motor skills like swimming, biking, and walking long distances
- Develops a habit of being active and getting exercise
- Fosters a connection to the planet which sustains us
- Nurtures a feeling of reverence and respect for nature
- Time in nature (including city parks) is calming for people of all ages
Why does outside time matter for your family? Write it down on the worksheet!
What tend to be your obstacles for getting outside?
Is it the weather? Your own motivation and enjoyment of being outside? Is there a time constraint, and do you need to be outside supervising at all times (this depends on the age of your children and the community you live in)?
Write down all of your challenges!
What are the possible solutions to your challenges?
Sometimes when we write down what’s getting in our way we can start thinking more clearly about what would help.
Do you need clothing and gear so you’re equipped to be out in all kinds of weather? Is it a matter of getting that gear organized so it doesn’t take ages to get out the door? Do you need to summon more of your will forces to guide everyone out when it’s time? Would it help to make a plan in advance for where you’ll go or make a standing playdate to meet friends at the park?
Write down all your ideas for overcoming obstacles to spending time outside.
When would it work best to go outside every day? Will you have a weekly plan as well?
Look at your daily rhythm and think about when it would work best to head outside.
Your plan can change with the seasons of course!
You might have open-ended playtime which could be inside or out depending on interests and the weather that day, and also a non-negotiable time when you head out for a walk no matter what the weather.
You get to decide how structured your days will be and whether you’ll include outside time in your weekly rhythm. Here are some ideas for activities you might include in your homeschool rhythm:
- Daily walk
- Hiking or swimming at the lake on weekends
- Weekly visit all year round to a pond, hiking trail, or other special place
- Traditions to visit certain places in your seasonal rhythm (such as an apple orchard or the ocean)
- Park day
- Outside play every afternoon
- Eat lunch outside (we did this almost every day year-round when we lived in NC)
- Main lesson, handwork, or circle in the backyard on beautiful days
- Messy art projects in the backyard (this is so fun with preschoolers – just hose off when finished!)
- Weekly visits to your CSA farm
- Gardening in your daily or weekly rhythm
- A weekly afternoon nature lesson or exploration
- A nature lesson co-op with friends
- A forest kindergarten program a couple mornings a week
This is just a brainstorm – of course it’s always good to keep things simple and do what makes sense for your family. A simple plan such as “outside time every day after lunch for at least an hour” is perfect!
Write down when you’ll go outside and what you’ll do!
The last step is to make a commitment to going outside and follow through.
Include your spouse and older children in the discussion and share why it matters to you. Write up your plan, make it pretty if you like, and post it somewhere you’ll see it. Set an alarm on your phone if that will help you remember. Talk to a friend about your plan.
Enjoy your time outside and notice how it benefits you and your children!