What We Learned from Starting the Homeschool Week with a Hike

Homeschooling and hiking are two of my favorite things in life. This doesn’t mean I’m amazingly proficient at either, but I do enjoy them and I fully believe both are meaningful pursuits. I’ve always loved hiking more than 2/3 of my kids, but when we go with friends, you’d think it was the kids’ idea.

Since about October (you could say this school year), with huge thanks to the persistence of one mom friend in particular, we started most homeschool weeks with a Monday walk in the woods. Notice I said “most homeschool weeks,” meaning more than half, but not all. Life is busy, people get sick, and winter is ridiculously cold here, but we’re thankful for all the hikes we did take to kick-off the homeschool weeks.

We learned skills like how to identify ramps (a wild onion) and how to retrieve a boot from deep inside an ice crevice. We learned that cattail seeds really do stick to everything like Caddie Woodlawn said, that frost is beautiful and intricate, and that God has the best imagination. We also learned some broader life lessons.

Here are the key takeaways we learned from these hikes:

  1. We accomplished more academically. There are oodles of peer-reviewed studies that detail this. What a lovely truth it is that spending less time studying increases the productivity of studying! I’ve always liked to bring the books outside, but it turns out that placing the hike at the top of the to-do list is a setup for success. Scandinavians have known this forever. They don’t start school [as Americans think of it] until age 6-7, and those in a Forest School spend the majority of the school day outside. Scandinavia produces some of the top reading scores in the world. Step aside, lessons, and let outdoor play lead the day.
  2. We were less stressed. Again, there’s ample research to back this up, but my observation on our school year showed me that when we prioritized a hike, it helped us chill and put our priorities in perspective.
  3. We accomplished more non-academically. Remember Admiral McRaven’s famous speech about making your bed? The retired Navy SEAL says that starting every morning with an accomplishment, even as small as making your bed, snowballs into bigger and more meaningful accomplishments. When we started the school week with a hike, we were revved up to put away our laundry, unload the dishwasher, and work through our responsibilities.

If you’re struggling to get everything done, I encourage you to spend more time outside, both to increase your productivity and to rightly align your priorities.

*Note: I do not want this post to stress anybody out. The more homeschooling parents I meet, the more I believe that most parents are already doing their best. If this article makes you feel stress-y, relax. I’m not trying to add to your endless workload. I’m only saying that building in more nature time has benefited us, and you may find the same for your family 🙂

How do you balance outside time and school time? Post your positive comments below 🙂

4 thoughts on “What We Learned from Starting the Homeschool Week with a Hike

  1. Virginia Henderson says:

    I love this!! I’ve started hiking every Sunday with my dad and sis and we love it! It’s so nice to get outside and admire God’s handiwork in nature. As for including hiking in a homeschooling schedule, I totally see where this would have so many benefits.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. JPC Allen says:

    Very interesting. Our local school district now gives kindergartners, who are in school from 9 am to 3:30 p.m., one recess. The Christian school my youngest goes to still gives middle school kids a recess. I wish educators would learn that cramming in more study time in children doesn’t mean they are actually learning.

    Liked by 1 person

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