Monday, April 25, 2011

Springtime Education- Guest Post

Springtime Education

The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the animals are stirring, the trees and flowers are budding, the air is warmer and the kids are begging to go outside! What a perfect opportunity for a Mother to be teacher. Whether you are a homeschool Mom or an after-school Mom, there are so many things to teach your children in the great outdoors.

Preschool through first graders have a serious interest in gaining knowledge. It frustrates them because they can't read and yet they long to see the world in a deeper way. However, the development of their eyes and their creative functions of the brain can be severely hindered, if they are taught to read, or allowed a lot of near-sighted activity and desk work before the age of eight. (See E.G. White, Child Guidance, page 300.) So what is a Mom to do? Go outside—let it become your classroom during these early years! This is your perfect opportunity for giving children an education that will set the tone for the rest of their learning experience both in and out of the formal classroom.

Older children spend much of their time indoors studying textbooks. They need to get outside, too! The following ideas are very basic and are geared for small children, but with a bit of creativity (and making your child work a little harder or solve more complicated problems) they can be used with any school-age child or youth.

Math fun:
Simple math is so much fun outside! Count the petals of a flower, the leaves on a branch, the branches on a bush, or the stones on the ground. Teach them how to add them together, or subtract them. Discover geometric shapes—find circles, squares, triangles, and rectangles—all in rocks, leaves, petals, sticks, or pine cones. The world will come alive as they learn to observe the things around them!

Children are never too young to learn how to identify insects, wildflowers, garden plants, or edible weeds. They may be too young to use an identification guide, but you aren't! Take the guide books out (preferably ones with photos or drawings), and learn to identify the plants, bugs, rocks, and trees together! Find a few picture books and some interesting children's nature material that you can read to them, and you can teach them more about what you saw outside—while indoors on a rainy day.

When your children get a bit older—almost to the point of learning to read, teach them phonics outdoors. I'm not talking about hauling your books, papers, and pencils and sitting outside in a chair. Before 8-10 years of age their eyes are still young, and the less close-work they do, the better. Get a stick and find a sandy or dusty area in the backyard (sandboxes or unused garden beds work great, too!) and trace large letters in the dirt. Don't teach them their abc's at first, but teach them the variety of sounds that each letter makes. By the time they're ready to start learning to read, their phonics will already be learned and half your work is done!

For older children, use the opportunity to make English interesting. Help them to gain inspiration from the natural world around them for essays and poems or songs. You'll be amazed at how quickly a blank stare at the paper can turn into a beautiful masterpiece!

Childhood is the best time to encourage creativity—especially in the early years before they begin formal schooling, because that is when their creative side of the brain is developed. Teach them fun crafts like braiding, making flower chains, basket weaving, gardening, or even finger-painting nature scenes. Sing songs together while working or playing outdoors, teach them simple timing and rhythm by marching it in step.

The most important aspect of outdoor and indoor education is the formation of character and teaching them how to have a relationship with Jesus. Having family worship with them each day is important, but it should not be the only time of the day the subject is taught. Religion can be woven into every part of your day—especially while outdoors.

Teach your little ones how nature shows the amazing character of God—our loving Creator who made all those things. Inspire them to look for different aspects of His character in nature—His love, firmness, carefulness, tenderness, etc. Share scripture with them that point to those things: “He is the rock, His work is perfect...” (Deut. 32:4), “The Words of the Lord are pure words, as silver tried in a furnace...” (Ps. 12:6).

Another way to teach them about Christ, is to draw lessons from the simple things outdoors. Teach them Christ's parables and the lessons He wanted us to learn. When you are gardening together, teach them about the garden of the heart—how God wants to help us to break up our hard sinful hearts, root out all the weeds of selfishness and grow the fruits of the Spirit. Help them to memorize Bible verses, and repeat them together while you are outside.

The ideas are endless—this is only the beginning! But I hope it inspires you with some new thoughts and ideas that you can improve for your own family. Learning is such a joy, and the more you share with your children, the more you will learn as well! For more books and resources on helping your children to learn through the Bible and Nature, both indoors and outside, check out the online store on our website: We have books for young children, for family worship, and for homeschool, as well as a few DVDs that you will find very helpful! God bless you on your new day of adventures!

By Kristina McFeeters

Copyright © 2011 by Discovering His Treasures ministry
You are free to distribute this article under the terms of the
Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives License

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