Raising a Wild Child

Do you aspire to raise kids that LOVE the outdoors?  Here’s a beginner’s guide:

20180507_130947-COLLAGE.jpgFind a few spots in your week that you can fit in some outdoor time.   Two times that work well for us are, right after lunch, but before nap time; or right after school.  If we go after school, I  make sure dinner is in the slow cooker, so I avoid cranky hungry monsters.

Find one outdoor place, that is easy to get to, and good for hanging out.  I would aim for a natural area, that has interesting features, like trees, rocks, sticks, long grasses or a creek.  When starting out, you’ll probably want to bring your kids to one spot and migrate every 15 to 30 minutes to a different spot.  This can mean moving 10 feet further down the trail.  This provides variety for kids that aren’t quite comfortable making up their own games yet.  Eventually when kids are used to playing in nature, you’ll be able to settle in one spot for much longer periods… but you may still enjoy variety.

Dress yourself and kids appropriately to enjoy yourself.  Bring along extra clothes and layers, especially for your kids 6 and under.

We have a “go bag” that stays in our garage that carries supplies that we want when going to the forest.  This will vary for ages, experience level and interests, but things we have in our bag: a magnifying glass, shovels, hand rake, small saw, rope, whittling knife, wipes and band aids.  We don’t have one, but a map and compass would be a great addition.

“I’m BOOoooOOred”… If this is happening, you may need to get your kids started in an activity, like helping them build a small fairy house, or dig for worms.  However, back off as soon as they are into an activity.  By playing independently, they are learning to use their imagination, and directing their own learning.  It also gives you an opportunity to observe your children, and let their games and questions direct what topics you could learn about next.

Find a way to enjoy yourself outdoors.  Bring a book, garden, watch the birds, read my blog for more ideas… (you know I had to!)

The last point is important:  They are going to be messy!!  Be prepared.  Things that help, are a large boot mat, change of clothes ready, cloth to wipe hands, and PATIENCE!

Yes, it would be easier to just let your child veg out and become a couch potato…  but you’d be missing out on the magic of raising a Wild Child!

 

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Kids at the creek equals resilience

Cold wet socks, pants and wet mittens, plus a project that takes much more work than expected, plus convincing your 3 year old sister to help you; Equals resilience, patience and conflict resolution skills by the end of a day at the creek.

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Caleb decides he wants to build a big boat.  He collects logs and sticks, and plans his project.

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Caleb begins putting together his boat, weaving smaller sticks through the larger logs.  The pieces keep floating away.  He keeps getting soakers (water filling his boots).

He notices his sister, (also known as “his extra set of hands”) climbing up and down the logs and tree roots.

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Instead of getting frustrated and giving up, he practices his communication and negotiates to get her to come down and help him build the boat.

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He explains what he needs her to do.  They work together, and in exchange he offers her the first ride on the boat.

As you may have guessed, this resulted in Belle taking the earliest creek swim this year!

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You too will be amazed at what nature can teach little ones.

Water Safety Tips

How do you keep kids safe when hiking near or through water?

We all want to make sure our kids stay safe.  So how do you balance teaching your children a healthy respect of the water, while still letting them enjoy the opportunities that water can provide?

  1. Check out the creek/river before bringing your children, it may help you plan for risks better.  For example, we only go to the creek when my just over 1 year old can stay with my husband, because he is curious, but not ready.
  2. Before unleashing your children in the water, review safety rules with them
  3. No children near the water without a grown up.  For us, one side of the trail is off limits because of cliffs and water.  So they are not allowed to go off the trail on that side without a grown up.
  4. Kids always stay close to the grown up when we are in or near water.
  5. Help them find ways to learn to use their own judgement about rock steadiness, or slipperiness.
  6. Look for spots where the water is shallower than your child’s knees.
  7. Be sure there is little to no current.
  8. Dress appropriately, for us on a warmer day in the winter, the kids wear full rain gear with elastic leg holes – over their snow suits, with lined rubber boots.
  9. Let them explore, there is so much to do at the creek!!

Fear for your child’s safety is natural.  However, if you don’t introduce some risky play to your young child, how will they learn to deal with fear.

Be safe about it, but with the right creek, water play is awesome.