Topic | Outdoor time – 4-6 hours a day?! Is this possible?!

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  • That’s funny — a stroller never even occured to me…. (I must really be exhausted to not even have that enter the realm of my thinking!) We haven’t used it in at least a year because he always wants to DO everything the older ones do. But we do still have an umbrella stroller so that would be worth a try for my sanity. Thanks!

    mama_nickles
    Participant

    Sorry to tag along with this post, but just curious how people give their younger ones outdoor time when their older ones are busy doing schoolwork? Do you let them play outside unsupervised? We don’t have a fenced yard. I let DS5 and DD3 play outside without me (with the door cracked), but I can’t imagine DD3 and DD1 playing outside while I’m doing school with DS.

    jmac17
    Participant

    My oldest is only 7yo, so I don’t have kids yet that need to do hours and hours of school.  We do about 1.5-2 hours of school, which leaves lots of time for outside.

    My personal theory is that kids that are young enough that they are not able to do some of their school work independently, are also young enough that they need to be outside just as much as the preschoolers.  My vision is that once DD7 is older and doing more school work, she will be able to work fairly independently while I’m outside with the youngers.  She may come outside to narrate or ask a question, and I’m sure there will still be a certain amount of time that I have to be sitting with her, but again, it shouldn’t be more than a couple of hours, so there will still be plenty of time outdoors.

    There is also the option of setting up a place outside to do school work, so the olders can be working while the littles play.  Science projects and other messy activities might even be better done outside.

    Of course, time will only tell as to whether my plan actually pans out in reality!

    Joanne

    Gem
    Participant

    We do spend a lot of time outdoors, but we live in a very rural area, away from any traffic, with lots of room to run and play – I did not need to be outdoors with the kids once they were 5 or so – they are 12 and 9 now and they have the run of the place on their own.  I am not sure how we would manage it if we lived in town, or in a apartment like some have posted. I know it must be a struggle. And we did not get this much time consistently when they were younger – that is something that has changed as our family matures, in a natural way.

    During pleasant times of the year – mostly fall and spring – we do get some extra outdoor time by doing some of our read-alouds outdoors. Our usual setup is that the kids swing and I have a chair out by the swingset – I read while they swing. I think I can read longer and get better attentiveness when they are swinging LOL. It is like a quiet rhythmic activity that keeps their body moving while their minds are listening…

    So my suggestion is to move some of your readaloud time outdoors when the weather is nice – to increase outdoor time 🙂 hope that helps.

    Sara B.
    Participant

    I breezed through most of the responses, so forgive me if I repeat.  🙂

    We live in MN, yeah, that crazy state that just got a snowstorm last week…  (I was on vacation and missed it.  Woo-hoo!  😛 )  But for us, the way I schedule our days, my kids have a minimum of 2-3 hours in the winter, and a minimum of 5-6 hours outside every day to play.  And in the summer, we sometimes take our schoolwork out there (year-round schoolers here), or we might have a picnic outside, and all of that adds up on top of that 5-6 hours.  I am not an outdoorsy type – you gotta force me out there LOL – but even so, even when I only had 1 and 2 kids, we got outside A LOT.  With my oldest 2, I would go out sometimes with them, but we had a fenced in backyard that I could put them in when I needed a break.  By the time I had 3 kids, I could let the older 2 out to ride their bikes on the sidewalk and just keep an eye on them.  We’ve moved since then to a quiet dead-end road in a small town, so now they are all out there on their own without me, just peeking once in a while at my almost-4yo who just tags along after his big sisters (who are excellent babysitters), and he stays in our yard incredibly well, even with no fence.

    In the summertime (we just started our summer schedule this week, actually), we do 1 hour of school in the morning when it’s still “too cool” (or rather, too early) to go outside, then outside till lunch, then quiet time for an hour, then schoolwork during the hottest part of our days, then back outside till time to clean up and do chores before dinner.  Then back outside after supper/devotions/read-alouds, hopefully to take a walk as a family, or maybe to have a campfire, or whatever.  Then it’s time to get the dirtiest into the baths/showers and into bed.

    In the fall/winter/early spring, we do 4 hours of school.  That means I get all 4 kids done in that amount of time.  Really happy that my oldest was able to take on quite a bit of her own work this year…  Next year will be even better with another one who can also be mostly independent.  Yay!  So we do that 4 hours right away in the morning from 8-12pm, then lunch, then quiet time, then outside if it’s not dangerous windchills.  I do make them all go out for a minimum of 30 min. in the winter, but I don’t force it after that.  Maybe I’m a mean mommy – but I even try to get them to go out on super, super cold days, just for a few minutes of fresh air.  Not long enough to get frostbite, and I make sure they’re covered really well for that.  Often, even with our cold MN winters, they will stay out until I call them in, 2 of them especially (outdoorsy types).

    While the kids are outside, I get some chores done around the house.  But they also help a ton with the chores, too, in the morning and afternoons.  So I can do a lot of bigger projects and decluttering in the afternoons.  And I even get quiet time myself, should I care to take it.

    Oh, forgot to mention, even on rainy days they will go outside, unless it’s thundering/lightning.  They have rain boots and umbrellas.  Puddles are fun.  🙂  Oh, and one more thing – my kids have A LOT of play clothes.  😀

    And those are my thoughts on getting the kidlets outside, FWIW.

    Sara B., as a former Wisconsin neighbor, you are my hero!! lol  I can’t believe you are so good about getting out, even in the winter! How old are all your kids now?

    Sara B.
    Participant

    Haha, it’s funny, because for years I’ve chastised myself for not getting them outside as often as other people!  LOL  My kids are dd10, dd almost 9, dd6, and ds almost 4.

    The one thing I am not so good at is going on actual nature walks.  We school M-Th year-round, and we still can’t seem to fit in nature walks as a regular thing.  Drives me batty.  Undecided

    MountainMamma
    Participant

    My kids are 4 and 2 and we get out for more like 2-3 hours a day broken up over several parts of the day. We live in the mountains of Colorado so I cannot let them play by themselves (the neighbors saw a momma bear and 2 cubs the other day and right now there are 4 huge elk taking a nap on the hill in our backyard!).

    They love to swing, ride bikes, play with bubbles and dig in the mud. My youngest gets tired of it after about an hour and we have to come in. I hoping as she grows she will be able to hang in for longer. I find that if I can find a task to do (rake the yard, wash the car, etc.) they will last a little longer. I *love* to be outside though. I’d be out there all day if the little one could handle it!

    Benita
    Participant

    When I taught public school, the other teachers kept elementary kids inside unless the weather was near perfect. They criticized me for taking them out everyday. I told parents at start of year, “We go out unless I am afraid their noses will freeze and fall off!” Besides it was mid-atlantic, winters are not that cold! Only one family ever complained. That child stayed in if it was too cold in mom’s opinion. I would get coats from nurse or lost and found if someone didn’t have one to wear outside.

    Those kids needed to run around. I also didn’t keep them in as punishment for bad behavior. Counter -productive!!!

    I have tried to remember this with my own children. They need to go outside, even if just for a bit. Fresh air is good for mind, body, and soul. My grandmother would say,”It blows the stink off” – meaning grumpy, bad attitudes.

    We don’t get four hours for our youngest ones or even 2 for the olders, but this thread has inspired me to be more diligent about it.

    I love to go out in the rain. Neighbors think I am a little nuts! Of course homeschooling really makes them think that!!

    mama_nickles
    Participant

    Thanks for the thoughts. I guess the thing that’s a little tricky right now is that the 3 and 1 yo’s still nap for a couple hours every day, and DS5 has “rest time.” DS does breakfast and chores before 9, then we do school-ish stuff 9-10:30, then he plays in his room until lunch. After lunch he plays with DD1, then reads to DD3, then does some table type crafty stuff, then I read to him and he rests. More reading time, sometimes some table time, then outside time doesn’t come until late afternoon. All 3 kids love being outside, and the spring is gorgeous here in GA. Am I spending too much time reading and not enough outside?

    Shannon
    Participant

    Mama Nickles, what about that time from 10:30 until lunch? That seems like perfect outside time. Or outside time could replace the craft time during this beautiful spring and see how that feels? Read outside? I’ve really loved this question and all the answers and am once again looking at our own schedule to see why we aren’t out as much as I want us to be.

    jmac17
    Participant

    Mama Nickles, that does sound like quite a bit of reading/table/schoolish time for a 5yo, although I’m not sure what your ‘table’ stuff is, so it’s hard to be sure.  Remember that CM said that formal lessons shouldn’t start until after age 6.  I don’t follow that entirely, as my 5yo does some ‘school’, as did my DD7 when she was that age, but it is very short and sweet.  1 hour tops is my comfort level at that age, and that’s only if they are interested.  Oh, and about 20 minutes of bedtime reading.  Outside time should definitely far exceed school time at this age.

    Can you replace some of the ‘table type crafty stuff’ with outdoor activities?  Or maybe do some more outdoorsy crafts – my children have enjoyed things like sidewalk chalk, painting a big box to create a spaceship or house, building a log cabin out of twigs, or even a larger fort out of sticks if they are available, and walking through paint and then on a large piece of paper or old worn out sheet to create footprint pictures (be ready with a bucket or pool of water to step into after and only let one or two children do it at once!)

    What’s that quote?  Something like “Never be indoors when you can rightly be out?”  I try to make that my goal during the summer, since I know it’s impossible in the winter.  We can read and do more ‘schoolish’ time when we CAN’T be outside.

    Joanne

     

    Benita
    Participant

    I agree with the others. For a five year old, it would be more beneficial for him to be outside more and craft/table time less. Especially with nice weather. Save that craft/table time stuff for cold or rainy days or when a younger child is sick and you can’t go out. Also, going out before lunch and then lunch outside if possible makes little ones really do well with the afternoon nap. I also agree that you could take some readings outside. We always read aloud at lunch and tea time in the afternoon. And bedtime. That is plenty. At his age, imo, he needs more gross motor play than fine motor. He has plenty of years ahead for sitting still!!!

    mama_nickles
    Participant

    I guess I am struggling with his personality. He is really a pretty sedentary kid, especially for a boy. Plus, he really likes doing indoor stuff like tinkertoys, legos, etc. He loves drawing/writing/coloring. And he loves reading. Honestly, when the kids are outside, he isn’t really doing much gross motor stuff. A lot of their time they spend collecting “treasures” (sticks, rocks, etc), counting them, sorting, pretending they are assorted things (mostly weapons for DS lol). DH is frustrated that they don’t want to run around more, but DS also has sensory processing disorder so he has a “weak core” and of course nobody goes out of their way to do hard things.

    That being said, we did a good bit of reading outside this morning for circle time and the kids loved it. I also had DS do his independent stuff out on the table on the deck, and we ate outside. Of course it’s beautiful weather today so it was good. In the summer it will be too hot to be outside in the afternoons, so we’ll go out in the mornings instead.

    When I say he spends 1.5 hours doing school that includes 30 min circle time all together (Bible reading, calendar, read alouds), 20-30 minutes math (games with me), and 30 minutes independent time (assigned reading from CLP nature reader, 5 minutes copywork, and then assorted crafty type stuff after that).

    I guess I also feel like we don’t have another good chunk of time that he could go outside. Playing in his room is his favorite part of the day. He would be crushed if I took it away! Other than that, it’s just small bits of time, where I don’t really see the point in going outside for 15 minutes. Or am I wrong?

    Benita
    Participant

    My son, who is now 15, sounds like your little boy. He was never the super rough and tumble boy. He loved to play in his room and build things. His outside time in the early years was more the meandering and picking up sticks you speak of. As he got older and our other children and neighborhood kids were old enough to play outside with him, he started running around more – tag and games like that. In the early years,we had to do stuff with him – shooting baskets, riding scooters, swinging,etc… He would not do it on his own. But now he does all of those things so be encouraged.

    I wouldn’t take your son’s room time away. Plan on going out early on hot days and then again in the evening. And, really, 15 minutes is worthwhile. Remember, it isn’t always about what they do outside. It’s about fresh air and sunshine. In olden times, proper gentlemen and ladies took a walk or turn around the garden grounds daily. They were not running around. They did it because they had an innate sense that they needed the fresh air and some movement and of the restorative powers of a little sunshine.

    So what if he is doing something sedentary outside. At least he is out in the fresh air. He will be more inspired to do something active if he is already out there. It’s all about striking a balance and every child is different. But give a little more outside time a try. He may not seem to be doing much to you, but children grow and learn in interesting ways. It’s just like many other things. The more he does it, the more he will want to do it. I hope you will find outside time a joy and not look at it as another task to plug into the schedule. Give it a good try. You may find you all really love it. I wish you the best with it.

Viewing 15 posts - 16 through 30 (of 34 total)
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