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05 January, 2013

Guest Post: What The Great Outdoors Can Teach Your Homeschooled Child

Once largely the province of religious families, homeschooling is becoming an increasingly popular method of educating children.  This is a view that is supported by the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI), whose research found that over two million children were homeschooled in 2010.  The benefits of such an education are numerous; not the least of which being that homeschooled children seem to emerge into adulthood as well rounded people who are easily up to the demands of college life.

Those families living in urban areas undoubtedly have a diverse range of support options in relation to the education of their homeschooled child, but what of those who live in more rural areas; those for whom the city is a long drive and resources may, on the surface at least, be somewhat limited?  While children who are educated on rural homesteads may not be able to easily access urban-based support, they are in a unique position to enjoy the plentiful learning opportunities available to them in their immediate environment.

Outdoor Activities Conducive to Learning

Growing and foraging for food: Teaching your children how to grow their own food and forage the land for edible foodstuffs is an incredibly valuable lesson in helping them to understand the concept of self-sufficiency.  As an added bonus, children who grow up knowing the value of home grown, organic foods are likely to be healthier as a result.

Feeding and caring for animals: If there are animals on your homestead, incorporating their care into your child’s daily life can help in so many ways.  Not only will it offer you a routine around which you can structure the rest of your educational day, it will also teach your child about the importance of tending to and caring for others.

Learning about wildlife: Household animals are not the only sort of animals a child can learn about.  There are plenty of things your child can find out about wildlife too.  Why not try making a bottle wormery or a hedgehog house?  These activities will not only teach your children how to make things, but will also give them something to learn more from as they are used by the creatures for which they are intended.

Exploration: Heading off for a hike in the woods is a fabulous way to reap the benefits of outdoor learning.  You could do a treasure hunt of sorts.  “Collect a leaf from a certain type of tree” or “find a ladybird” are all valid challenges for children.  With a little bit of forward planning on your part (heading out beforehand to mark certain spots), you could also use the activity to teach compass reading skills.

Fort Making: Every child loves to make forts and there’s absolutely nothing to say that they should be confined to under the kitchen table.  For an activity with a difference (and to teach children how to survive outdoors should the need ever arise), set them a challenge to build a fort using only materials they can find outside.

Homeschooling in rural areas can be incredibly exciting for children.  We have a sneaking suspicion that you might quite enjoy the process too.

Author Bio 

Linda Forshaw is a Business Information Systems graduate from Lancaster University in the UK.  The head contributor to DegreeJungle.com, a college ranking website, Linda is a full time writer and blogger specializing in education, social media, and entrepreneurship.  Contact her on Twitter @seelindaplay

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