The change of seasons here in North Florida provides a time to encourage kids to put away the tablets and phones and get in touch with the outdoors. Youth need time to reconnect with nature. A great way to teach them about the great outdoors is to load up on a family field trip to the woods. A trip to the woods can provide an opportunity to explore many things associated with natural resources, land use, and cultural history in Taylor County. Exploring the outdoors provides a chance to explain the ecosystems and bring to life natural communities of plants, animals, and how to be good steward of the outdoors through teaching outdoor safety skills that kids need to know and understand.
Learning about Nature
Trips to the woods can teach your child about tree growth and development, harvesting wildlife rules and procedures, and outdoor survival skills. You can teach your child about the age of a tree and what the weather looked like during the life of the tree by looking at its rings. Scavenger hunts to identify leafs is another fun activity for kids. Youth can enjoy the benefits of the woods through spending time exploring freely and asking questions. A great way to teach youth about poisonous plants is through identification. Encourage your child to ask questions about the forest and learn about the commodities we use from them such as: paper, lumber, paint, medicine, electronics, etc. Teach them about habitats and how our woods are the habitat for wildlife. You can teach your child how to follow the Florida Wildlife Commissions rules for harvesting wildlife. Reviewing FWC rules and procedures is a great way to help youth become good stewards of the woods. Showing your child how to be safe in the woods while exploring will help your child understand the importance of watching their surrounding. This could prevent a snake bite or a slap in the face by a woods spider or even poison ivy.
Spending Quality Time Together
Children tend to remember the things they do rather than the information they are told. You can teach your child so many things about the outdoors. You can capitalize on this time with them as you intentionally connect with them and allow them to fully enjoy this time. It is important to have fun while your in the woods with them. Once you grab their attention or spark a new interest, they are compelled to continue learning. A ride in the woods with your child presents many opportunities for parents to connect with their child. It affords you an opportunity to be apart of their world. The idea of spending time in nature can make you feel better is kind of intuitive. Families need time together to disconnect from the distractions of the world and connect with each other, fellowship and learn new things together.
Good for Mental Health
Being in the woods feels good. Children are free to explore, move about, and make noise — all delightful forms of self-expression that are often restricted indoors. In nature, children can run, jump, hop, skip, climb, roll, and shout, which relaxes, and reduces tension, anxiety, and restlessness. Being in the woods enhances a sense of peace and often brings out nurturing qualities in children. Many energetic children slow down to dig a hole in sand, watch a deer cross the road, or spend focused time writing their names in a dirt road with a stick. Studies have found that exposure to the outdoors can reduce symptoms of ADHD and anxiety.
Your kids will remember the adventures you went on, not the stuff you bought them. Kids outgrow toys and stuff; they don’t outgrow time with you. Enjoy the woods with your child this fall. You may just enjoy spending time in the woods just as much as they will.