My children love to be outside. We are staying on a lake in a condo while my husband is working in South Alabama. The kids love to pick up their fishing poles and go fishing. We don't have a big "yard" like we are used to at our home in Louisiana, but there is room for them to run and play. There is a small playground, some grass where we can throw the football, places we can walk (mostly uphill), and plenty of big rocks to climb on. The little ones are always making up new games to play and begging the older ones to join in.
Even my older children enjoy being outdoors. They enjoy riding 4-wheelers in the fields and woods, hunting with their dad, and working the cows. They like to take their books outside and read under a shade tree. Mikaela enjoys working with her horses.
I don't have to make my children go outside, especially when we are home. When the weather is bad or it's too cold to go outdoors, my children get cranky and restless. I'm thankful we live in a place with mild winters! There is rarely a day we don't go outdoors even for a few minutes.
"In the first place, do not send them; if it is anyway possible, take them;
for although the children should be left much to themselves, there is a great deal to be done
and a great deal to be prevented during these long hours in the open air.
And long hours they should be; not two, but four, five, or six hours
they should have on every tolerably fine day, from April till October."
Charlotte Mason recommends that we take our children outside, not just send them outdoors. She also recommends four to six hours a day when the weather is nice. This is not a problem for us - my older children gladly spend that much time outside when it's a beautiful day. On a really hot day, I may have to bribe them with swimming, water guns, or ice cream. My younger children don't seem to notice if it's too hot or too cold - they just want to be outside.
In the spring and fall, we generally do spend four to six hours a day outdoors. We are finished with school by noon, and we tend to stay outside until five or six in the evening. I do run in and out, swapping laundry and cooking dinner, but the children stay outside most of that time. After all, I do have a house to run!
When it's hot in the summer, we stay outside if we are in a place near a pool. There is a pool right outside our door at this condo we are staying in, so we will have access daily! Last summer, we spent in North Dakota, and the weather was always beautiful. If we don't have school, we may go outside at 8 in the morning and stay until outside until it gets dark, around 8 in the evening. When it's really, really hot, we go outside in the mornings, come in during the hottest part of the day and read, run errands, or go to the library. Then, we will go back outside in the cooler evening.
When my children are outdoors, we don't always have a formal 'nature study' time, but I have noticed that they naturally take notice of things - unusual bugs, flowers blooming, butterflies fluttering around, birds flying and chirping, and how green the tree leaves are.
We also like to play family games - kickball, whiffle ball, freeze tag. We can usually convince some of my husband's friends and co-workers to join us in a game of whiffle ball on Sunday afternoons when we have a big area to play in. The younger kids love when the adults play!
Taking walks is also one of our favorite things to do as a family. The kids like to ride their bikes while I walk, but sometimes they enjoy walking with me. We love walking by the lake, watching the boats go by, looking for fish, and picking up pretty rocks.
Here a list of some things you and your children can do out-of-doors:
- take a walk
- go for a hike
- ride bikes
- play kickball, whiffle ball, baseball, football, soccer...
- read a book in the shade
- collect flowers, leaves, rocks, bugs...
- have a race
- look at the clouds
- plant flowers
- weed the garden
- paint or sketch
- play with water guns
- go fishing
- go frog-hunting