Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Outside Time

Last night at book club, the topic was nature study. Charlotte Mason was a big believer in the value of being outdoors. Here's what she says:

A mother may brag, 'I make sure to send my children outside, weather permitting,for an hour every day in the winter and two hours in the summer.' That's a good start, but it's not enough. They should be long days spent outside--not two, but four or even six hours on every tolerable day from April til October. Long hours in fresh air is the ideal for children. It may not be practical for every family, but when mothers understand the good that a measure can do, they will often work miracles to provide it.

- taken from Home Education (Modern English version) by Charlotte Mason

I'm curious: How much time do you spend outdoors with your children?


C and C said...

I have seen that quote of Charlotte's before and wondered how in the world to make that happen. I thought 2 hours was great. 6 hours seems impossible with all that needs to be accomplished inside, especially when the weather isn't always favorable. I would love to get other people's take on this.

Kidcraze said...

Mine spend more time outside without me than with me, but I bet they get at least four hours out there on many days. We're blessed to have a safe yard that is secure and no one can go out or come in. We have a lot of critters, too....we feed the birds so there are many of those around. We have a LOT of squirrels.
There are flowers, trees, bushes, veggies, oh yah, and weeds!

We love to camp and hike as a family and we're always pointing out different trees and flowers as they come into season.

Jenni said...

My children come no where near getting 4-6 hours outside per day, but it is a priority for me, so I get them out when I can, for as long as I feel like I can.

We are not currently in a circumstance where I can allow them outside without my being there every second, so that creates some definite limitations. That is one reason why I am praying for a fence, LOL!

With that said, I love being out there with them, playing and enjoying their company. Nothing envigorates me more than feeling the fresh air on my face and surveying the Lord's Creation firsthand. It gives me a great sense of internal peace, and I feel as if it does for the children as well.

My oldest child, who is 9 has recently started to LOVE sketching, so I know she will want to be out more to do that. We have always incorporated some nature sketchwork into our schooling, but she is really getting into it for her leisure time now, and I definitely want to encourage that!

mommy4 said...

I grew up with an amazing mom. She would pretend eat our mud pies and we spent as much time outside as we wanted to. I had so much fun! It was never boring. I do the same with my kids. As soon as we are done with breakfast they get dressed and off to play outside. I get a lot done inside and I call one kid in at a time to do our schoolwork. I don't mind chaning the kids clothes several times a day depending on the weather. You know they're only kids once and I want them to enjoy their time here with me. Even if it is a little extra work for me with laudry. I don't care if they just got mud all over their new clothes, because they are kids! We homeschool a lot outside on our patio table. We enjoy it a lot and the kids are always so tired after dinner that its never a fight with them to get them to bed. I pray that they have great memories of making club houses with blankets and making mud pies. You should see the things they come up with. My kids are outside now since it is supposed to rain the rest of the week we need our outside time like we need water!!

MommaofMany said...

My Lambies spend quite a bit of time outside playing, but not much of that time is with me. In the summertime, they live in the pool, and spring and fall, while it's nice and cool, but bright, they play outside riding bikes and scooters with the entire neighborhood all afternoon.

I might spend a half hour outside with them after school and before dinner prep, and another fifteen in the garden in the morning.

Granola Girl said...

We have a "Nature Journal" that my son keeps. We have taken it to the beach, the woods, the backyard, and the river. It has really encouraged him to make observations, spend time looking closely at leaves and flowers and bugs. He no longer gets bored outside for long chunks of time because he is so interested in trying to see everything that he'll be out for double the time he used to. Though it slows down the pace of his walking to moseying he can spot the smallest things! We then write down the date, location, weather and things he saw, and conclusions or wondering questions he has to follow up on later. He is too young to sketch yet, but we hope to put that in later. For now he collects things to press and dry for the pages. He has learned to identify all kinds of birds, leaves, flowers, and tracks now that he is taking time to really look.

ecrawfor80 said...

sheesh...i am terrible about this! I cannot handle cold weather AT ALL so if it's cold we don't really make it out. The summer and fall is very different. My dh drives us to the park to hike or play every evening and we take several walks and have playtime outside during the day. Maybe 2-3 hours in the summer?? Still no where to close to 4-6!!

Jody said...

Just because I like to stir the pot . . ..

There are things about Charlotte Mason that I love, but one of them isn't her personal experience. She was not married and didn't have children of her own. She lived in an era when children were treated as cattle. She was an institutional teacher that was trying to change institutionalized education. For that I applaud her, but don't find her approach to schooling always conducive to the art of mothering.

She didn't have meals to plan, babies to diaper or a husband to love.

That said, I'm all about playtime outside and my children do it everyday. I love it when they play for many hours. But THEY love it when I play out there WITH them. When we find bugs as Charlotte describes. When every discovery is learning. Ms. Mason was not a huge proponent of independent learning. I believe when she talks of playing outside she means in the company of adults. Do you have 6 hours to devote to that? Sometimes I do. Sometimes I don't.

So Yes to playtime. Yes to Charlotte's ideas of nourishing and nurturing a child with the world around them. No to expectations no mother can uphold.

Ginger said...


Yes, that was a big part of our discussion at book club. During CM's time, most all the moms had housekeepers, cooks, and nannies. I don't look at 6 hours as pressure to be a perfect mommy, I see it as encouragement to make a bigger priority of outside time. 6 hours won't happen at our house. 4 hours very rarely, but it's something for me to work towards.
As far as playing *with* the children, CM said this (in that same paragraph):
"First of all, the mother shouldn't send them, she should take them." In other words, she should be with her children.

Given how much time I spend with my children while homeschooling, I can't imagine how you don't see her approach to education conducive to mothering. Please explain.

Erika said...

Yesterday we spent probably 5-6 hours outside, but that is not normal. I really need to be out with them at their young ages. Also, right now it is actually nice weather. When it gets summer here, it is too hot to be out for long periods without heatstroke in little ones. I have not figured out a solution to that, but I'd like to, since I love for my kids to play outside.

Phil Newton said...

I spend tons of time outside with the kids.

Yesterday, another Dad and I from the neighborhood played a game called Neighborhood baseball with all the kids on the street. We play in our front yard and as the game goes on, more kids come out. This is especially nice for the kids who don't have a Dad in the home. It gives us a chance to witness to the kids, too.

P.S. Haven't "talked" to you in a long time, Ginger. Hope things are great with you.

Phil and Jill