Nature skills for children? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 07-30-2014, 01:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Nature skills for children?

I don't have children yet but that does not stop me from looking and window shopping! I feel that teaching children how to be comfortable in the woods is so important. I found this website that looks like just what I would like to teach them. What do you think, any opinions?
Let me know what you think please, I was thinking of taking their free online class just to check it out.
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#2 of 4 Old 07-30-2014, 03:30 PM
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I find that most classes, even those geared towards kids, are simply never open-ended enough. "Look at this" or "I see what you see, how many legs does it have?" and artificially focus a child's exploration away from their open, wide-eyed, curious state of discovery. Sometimes it's a matter of time and keeping to what "needs" to be taught, but it's a limitation that I haven't yet gotten away from (n my limited searching).

If you want to check out a class for yourself and learn to use specific skills beyond just being with nature (which is often the first step to most wilderness classes-- the "sit spot" and earning to open your vision and senses without trying to *make* something of it. Essentially, what a child does) go for it. Pick up these skills for yourself and get comfortable using them and then use those new found skills to offer to your kids. Since you don't have kids yet (I also did plenty of "window shopping" and had a long time to do it) you have the time to try things out yourself. There are a lot of available classes and books, online and offline.

Tom Brown, Jr. wrote my favorite book for kids in the wild, and after all these years, it's still my favorite. He has a lot of lost-proofing games, and says much the same that I mentioned-- not to channel a child's attention away from or onto any specific thing if they are already engrossed.
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#3 of 4 Old 07-30-2014, 07:11 PM
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I agree with SweetSilver as usual. I think an education focused on the natural world should be primarily about the child's relationship with the natural world -- visceral, intuitive, experiential. Not knowledge- and skill-based. That will come, but it will ideally be secondary, driven by the intuitive relationship the child has. My youngest got really interested in learning survival skills this past fall, but that was an interest built on a lifetime of experience in the natural world. Her interest wasn't out of fear or safety concerns, but out of a desire for more freedom, more experience and more confident self-sufficiency.

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#4 of 4 Old 08-01-2014, 12:14 AM
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I agree with others here -- the best way to get kids comfortable in the woods is to give them plenty of time in the woods. Hiking, camping, playing, exploring. I just got back from a three days trip with another family, and the four 2-5 yr olds along were all pretty adept at pointing out poisonous plants, finding edible ones, knowing what grows where, scrambling rocks, helping start the fire, crossing small creeks, etc... I didn't have to manufacture any teaching moments, but they certainly happen, like when my 5 yo very excitedly showed me a different kind of fern he'd never seen before and asked about it. Mostly they climbed and splashed and ate berries and played. All these kids just know a lot because they get out a lot, and the most formal thing they've experienced in the outdoors is a regular weekly hike group (the sole formality of which is that kids meet at time X every week, and we walk somewhere, and they play).

I guess I do teach kids poisonous plants though. And basic fire safety (don't swing burning sticks into your brother, don't play balance games on the fire-ring rocks, etc...).
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