By Lauren Packer
According to the Learning Association..
“All young people experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer. Research spanning 100 years shows that students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of summer” (White, 1906; Heyns, 1978; Entwisle & Alexander 1992; Cooper, 1996; Downey et al, 2004).
I am a witness to this stat, because I am not only a mother, but I am a teacher. Summertime is a time to relax, let loose, have fun and vacation. It is a 3 month long reward for those 9 grueling months of school that just passed. Understandable… But what happens in August when that child’s brain has to get fired back up and those neurons have to come off of vacation and not only recall old info, but learn new info as well? A lot of children struggle in the beginning fall months, because of that summer break, and for other reasons, but I digress.. lol (another piece, another time). With that being said, it is up to us as parents and teachers to engage children into FUN learning activities! Children do not know that learning can be fun until it is demonstrated. That’s where we come in! ;)
In my classroom, you can smell apples, see hanging leaves, scarecrows, and acorns. We SEE nature, we TALK about nature, and we EXPLORE nature through OUTSIDE play. In my classroom, our vocabulary and math lessons are filled with reminders of the autumn season. But what if you’re not a teacher? What if your child is not in school? What do you do then? I have two words for you…. GO OUTSIDE!!!!! lol
Being outdoors is a wonderful place to be during the fall! It tickles all 5 of the children’s senses, and the best part is, it’s free! There are no hours of operation, meaning you can spend as much or as little time outdoors as you want. Studies suggest that children need a minimum of 30 minutes of OUTDOOR playtime, per day. Are your children getting the recommended fresh air play time? If not, do they seem to still be WIRED by the day’s end? If so, that’s why! ;) This recommendation benefits more than just the kids. If you are a stay at home parent, teacher, or caregiver, you should be able to contest to the BREAK outdoor play gives you! It also allows children to explore their independence and create their own agendas. This is good for their mental development.
Before you even say it, I already know what you’re probably thinking; Lauren, we DO go outside, but I don’t know what to do besides let my kid run around. Here’s the thing, stores with dollar sections (The Dollar Tree) have vast selections of project /learning materials, and all you need to be creative outdoors. All you have to do is LOOK! lol Be innovative, and if all else fails, there's always Pinterest! I live for Pinterest‼ Simply Pinterest “outdoor fall ideas for children”, and you will get tons of results. Try it out and let me know how your outdoor learning goes!
But just In case you get stuck, here are some quick ideas for fall outdoor fun!
Are you going to try any of these activities with your children? I hope so!