This school year will certainly be like no other we have experienced. If you are one of the many families like mine who have opted for online learning for your kids this fall, then you are probably feeling a bit uneasy about what lies ahead. We are hoping for the best and that our kids stay happy, healthy, and engaged.
However, sitting all day staring at screens can take a toll on their physical and mental health. Physicians recommend paying attention to posture and taking breaks to stretch and move around, but there is also another incredible way to balance our kids’ screen-based school day—nature.
Here are some fun, simple ways to add a bit of nature to your children’s school day to help them feel calmer and happier:
Decorate Their Workspace With Nature Imagery
Your kids don’t even have to leave their chair to experience a burst of nature when they look up from their computer throughout the day. Just gazing at pictures of gorgeous nature scenes like beaches, forests, or snow-topped mountains can spark a sense of tranquility and wonder. Consider hanging some nature photography or paintings in their workspace or keeping several inspiring nature photography books around like Ansel Adams’ collections for them to look at when they need to recharge. Get more ideas about nature decor that your kids will love.
Show Awe-Filled Nature Videos
Have you ever been to a doctor’s office that has a video of nature scenes playing in the waiting room? Catching a glimpse of nature’s beauty can bring a healthy distraction to an otherwise stressful situation. You can also incorporate this tactic into your children’s workspace by having them take a video break to watch something that calms and inspires them, such as a rushing stream flowing over rocks, wildlife in their natural habitats, or sunrises and sunsets. Some of my favorites are the time-lapse videos that show flowers blooming or the seasons changing.
Play Relaxing Nature Sounds
Listening to nature sounds can also help your children relax and improve mood. One study found that those who listened to ocean waves had considerably lower muscle tension, heart rates, and stress. Decide which sounds bring your children the most joy and be sure to intersperse them throughout their day. Some will have nature sounds along with music in the background and others will just be the sounds of nature. There are tons of apps that you can explore to help you find soothing nature sounds.
Read Nature Stories and Poetry
Another simple way to add some nature to your children’s day is to encourage them to read a piece of literature, poetry, or an article about nature that inspires them. The more vivid and descriptive, the better. Whether they love reading biographies of nature heroes like Jane Goodall or descriptive poetry about the beauty of nature, they will feel better after they take that reading break. Some other ideas include reading about scientific discoveries, animal behavior, or incredible places to visit.
Take A Quick Field Trip
It’s important to take time away from the intensity of the school day to help your kids recharge so they can come back inspired and ready to work again the next day. You are probably wondering: how can I take my kids on a field trip in the middle of a pandemic? Fortunately, there are plenty of places to visit safely, especially outdoors. Carve out some time after school to get away to places that fill your family with a sense of peace and relaxation. Some ideas include parks, botanical gardens, sculpture gardens, nature centers, wildlife refuges, hiking trails, and fountains. Depending on where you live, maybe you can head over to the beach or a lake to enjoy the sights and sounds of the water. Even a quick walk around your neighborhood keeping an eye out for wildlife or attractive gardens can lead to some nature-filled moments. Enjoy!
How will you tap into nature to reduce the stress of online learning for your kids?