The Skills Nature Builds

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
  • Strengthening grasp
  • Building endurance

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 My 9 year old dropped the knowledge bomb,” Mom, everything we see on TV or on my iPod gets out of date.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,

2. wanting intentional ways to turn your favorite nature based activities into skill builders, schedule a consultation with Collins Academy Therapy Services.




American Occupational Therapy Association. (2020). Occupational therapy practice framework (4th ed.). American Occupational Therapy.


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.

Sarah Collins

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.

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