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Kids in the Canyon: Teaching Kids Outdoors
September 19, 2013 - By Amy Weisberg, M.Ed.
October is a great month for enjoying the warm days of late summer as it blends into fall. The extension of Daylight Savings Time makes this a great month to explore the outdoors and we can teach children to notice changes in nature while extending their learning at the same time.
In school, children learn rules and though they are slightly different depending on location, most schools teach children to be safe, respect others and to take responsibility for materials and actions. These rules can be applied at home, on outings to restaurants, shopping and in natural environments.
It is important to teach children to be safe outdoors and in public spaces. In the fall we begin to see the leaves changing, but poison oak is still present and showing its red leaves, so teach children to avoid leaves of three.
Look for opportunities to be cautious when encountering snakes, animal homes, spiders and other living things to help make the outdoors a safer environment for your children.
When taking children to restaurants or shopping, they need to be reminded to be safe and to stay near their parents. Even older children need to be reminded to guard their trust with people they dont know. The approach of Halloween with trick or treating and carnivals is another good time to reinforce safety rules with children, such as staying near adults.
Teaching children to respect others will help them become good friends, welcomed guests and eventually to operate in a work environment.
Respect comes in many forms, but some that translate well are showing respect by listening to others, by respecting the personal space of those around you, by respecting personal and public property, and by being respectful of peoples time, money and energy.
Children with good manners demonstrate appreciation and are on their way to becoming adults who are able to navigate social situations more easily. In the outdoors, children can be taught to respect animals and their homes, plants and trees by not removing leaves, flowers and bark, and State and National Parks and beaches by preserving the environment.
Another great way to protect the environment is to teach recycling and to teach children to dispose of trash properly. Respecting and caring for nature is a practice that begins in early childhood and continues through adulthood.
Responsibility is the opposite of entitlement. When we teach children to be responsible, we teach them to take care of materials, their clothing and their environment. We teach children that when they say they are going to do something, they must do it and when they have work (or homework) to do, it is their responsibility to get it done.
Learning to be responsible carries over into adulthood and when children really embrace it, they grow into responsible, productive adults.
Children begin to learn about responsibility in kindergarten, when simple homework is given and the main goal is that the children will take it home and bring it back.
As children grow older, they will be given more responsibility in the form of projects that need to be completed over time, homework, practicing instruments or for sports so they can be a contributing member of a group. Being a part of a group helps children learn to value the importance of each group member's contributions.
Children should also be taught that they are entitled to be cared for by their parents and to be given an education by their teachers, but that they are not entitled to have everything they want, to be given multiple exceptions or chances to complete work or to exist on the receiving end without giving back.
Children can learn responsibility by caring for a pet, by caring for an outdoor area or through Scouts projects. They can participate in beach cleanup days or help to maintain trails in parks. Caring for our outdoor areas and our homes teaches responsibility.
When children buy into these rules and take ownership of their own behavior, they learn to become contributing members of our community.
OCTOBER ACTIVITIES IN THE CANYON
Help For Moms Raising Girls In Today's World, Sept 27This eight-week course with Jenny Griffiths, MA, and Kamakshi Hart, MA, is intended to give mothers a safe, loving, uplifting place to share their challenges and joys, celebrate and support each other and receive inspiration and insight as they journey with their daughter(s).
Each week will provide experiential exercises designed to help mothers get the tools, nourishment and guidance they need to maintain healthy, thriving, connected relationships with themselves and their girls.
There are two group opportunities: Beginning Friday, Sept. 27, 10 a.m. to Noon; or Monday Sept. 30, 7-9 p.m.
Each group meets for eight consecutive weeks. Located in Topanga; Directions will be given with registration.
Course fee: $295; $100 deposit required in advance to reserve space.
Halloween Carnival at Topanga Elementary Charter School, Oct. 26The annual Halloween Carnival with fun for all ages, will be held this year on Oct. 26 on the Upper Playground. Remember to be safe as darkness falls and teach your children to check in with a grown-up so you know they are safe.
Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum (theatricum.com)Experience Family Fun Days, as well as many available classes for children of all ages. The Theatricum is a wonderful place to learn to be a respectful audience and to enjoy a relaxed, casual atmosphere at the same time.
Topanga State ParkTake the family on a walk and discover our local State park in the fall. Topanga State Park is a great place to learn to be safe outdoors.
Topanga State BeachTake the family down at low tide and explore the sea life hiding among the rocks. This is a great place to learn to respect nature!
Amy K. Weisberg, M.Ed., has been a teacher for 35 years and has been teaching at Topanga Elementary Charter School for 20 years. Her business, CompleteTeach, provides support for students, parents and teachers. Her book, How to Have the Best Super-Duper School Year Ever! is available on Amazon.com.
Kids in the Canyon, is dedicated to parents and kids, offering them tips for the month ahead and great activities for kids in the Topanga area.