There are so many benefits to being outdoors. Nature automatically encourages occupations, also known as engaging in activities a person wants or needs to do. Research shows participating in any meaningful outdoor activity can benefit mental health by improved wellbeing and resilience as well as positive effects on mood, concentration, self-discipline and physiological stress. Nature/ outdoor activities can also specifically target motor, processing, and social skills. There are many options to consider.
Here is just one example: kayaking
Some motor skills are:
Rotating and strengthening the core
Coordinating the upper body
Some process skills are:
Persisting throughout the entire trip
Using the paddles as directed
Attending to safety
Initiating each step and continuing until completion
Navigating through an unfamiliar environment
Responding to problems or unexpected circumstances
Sometimes, the social skills encouraged in a new, safe, exciting area are the best part. Recently, when I took my 9 year old on our kayak, we talked about his progress this school year, memories from the past, and even directly about how to have a conversation. My 9 year old dropped the knowledge bomb,” Mom, everything we see on TV or on my iPod gets out of date. But, being outside never does.” So true, kiddo, nature builds relationships on something that can never get old!!
If you are
1. wondering how to incorporate nature to build skills within your homeschool,
American Occupational Therapy Association. (2020). Occupational therapy practice framework (4th ed.). American Occupational Therapy. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2020.74S2001
Schweitzer JP., Gionfra S. (2018) Nature-Based Education for Resilient Cities. In: Azeiteiro U., AKERMAN M., Leal Filho W., Setti A., Brandli L. (eds) Lifelong Learning and Education in Healthy and Sustainable Cities. World Sustainability Series. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-69474-0_21
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Sarah is an OT and home school mama whose zone of genius is bridging the gap between OT's and homeschool parents with resources to help them both thrive.