Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Beginning Nature Walks

Have you tried nature walks with your children yet?

Did you take along all the guide books, nature journals, pens, markers, coloring pencils, rulers, magnifying glasses, nets, and baggies?

Did your children dress in long pants, long socks, long sleeves, boots, hats, and just about coat themselves in bug spray?

Were you tired from all these preparations before you left the house?

On the walk, did you require your children to find, draw, color, measure, name, and classify a plant and an animal?

Did you expect them to have a relaxing stroll through the woods, showing interest in every plant and animal you encountered?

Years ago, on our very first 'official, school counting' nature walk, I could have answered yes to every single one of these questions. 

It was awful.

The walk was very stressful for me as I tried to make them learn about something - anything
With in minutes, the children were taxed, and so was I. 
It was just too much!

We didn't go on another nature walk for the rest of the school year.
Yes, that's right. We took off the entire rest of the school year from nature walks because our first was that detrimental.

Another school year began, and I thought perhaps we should try another nature walk.

This time, I decided to leave it all behind. No guide books. No pencils, notebooks, or magnifying glass.   I'm not even sure we had bug spray.

Instead, our only goal was to enjoy the afternoon and creation.
It was transcending and freeing.
Not only did we enjoy the day and creation, but we learned.
We observed.
We noticed.
We savored every moment.
It was everything I had ever hoped a nature walk would be.

That walk was the first of many low-key, enjoyable nature walks that still continue to this day. While we don't always leave all the guide books behind, and sometimes we even tote a magnifying glass or two, we still use a casual approach to our nature walks.

So, if you are thinking about implementing a few nature walks
for the first time this spring,
then might I encourage you to start with just one goal?
And, perhaps this one goal could be to just enjoy the day in nature?

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