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Thursday, January 23, 2020

9 Essential Tips for Keeping Your Pets Safe in the Snow

Photo by: Ebowalker (pixaby)


During the cold months of winter and early spring, it is, of course, still important that our pets get fresh air and exercise, but it is equally important that we take all measures to properly care for our pets and protect them against the unique challenges of winter. There are nine simple things that we can do as pet owners to help our furry friends stay healthy and comfortable in the cold.

1. Clear the Way

Shovel a clear path to a designated potty spot for your pet. Doing this will help keep them most comfortable and out of deep snow. It may also speed up the process in cold weather as, with training, they understand the purpose of the outing and get on with their business quickly to get back to cozier indoors.

2. Take Care to Remove Rock Salt from Paws

Ingesting rock salt can be harmful and upset your pet's stomach. After a walk on treated surfaces, pet parents can remove salt from their dog's paws by dunking them in warm water and gently wiping them clean. If there's a small amount of rock salt, a wet cloth could work well enough. Note that if you have a walkway or driveway that is treated with rock salt, there are pet-safe varieties that are recommended and available to pet owners.

3. Avoid Contact with Antifreeze

Antifreeze is needed by many during the cold and snowy months, but those caring for pets should be aware that it is toxic and harmful to animals. It has a sweet smell that might pique a pet's curiosity. Always make sure to properly dispose of antifreeze containers, don't leave them in places they could be gotten into by any pets.

4. Don't Forget Our Pets May Need Layers Too

Once the cold weather rolls in, many of us pull out the winter gear for our families. Along with the coats, hats, gloves, and scarves that we bundle our families in, it is important that we consider our family pets and their cold-weather comfort. If you have a smaller dog or one with a light coat, consider outfitting them for winter with an extra layer. Fleece coats and covers come in all sizes, accommodating dogs both big and small.

5. Bundle Up

After a walk in the dog park in cold weather, pet parents may do well to wrap their pets in a warm towel or blanket in an effort to bring their temperature back up. A hairdryer may also come in handy. When needing to warm up chilly paws, use a hairdryer on a low setting and a bit of a distance so as to avoid burning the paws.

6. Condition Dry and Cracked Paws

Moisturizing a dog's paws during the winter can go a long way in helping them stay comfortable. Cracked skin can become painful and bleed if left untreated. Using Vaseline, generously coat the paws and covering them with booties can help condition their skin to better withstand the wet and cold weather of winter.

7. Avoid Walking on the Ice

When out for walks, do not allow your pet to walk on frozen bodies of water. It's hard to tell from a distance how thick the frozen ice may be and it's simply safest to avoid it. Thin ice can crack and break easily under a dog's weight, increasing the risk of a drowning incident.

8. Properly Trim Hair or Fur on the Feet

Untrimmed foot fuzz can cause ice and snow to cling to our pets, collecting as packed snow and ice between the toes and pads of the feet. Properly trimming a pet's fur about their feet and toes to be even with the surface of the paw can help to avoid the snow clumping. This is especially important for long-haired pets.

9. Stay In

Maybe the simplest tip of all, but as with people, our pets are only meant to handle so much cold, even with their coats. Take all proper care of your pets and follow all local cold weather advisories, limiting exposure to the elements. Be aware of the signs of hypothermia in dogs and take care to avoid putting a pet in an unsafe position.

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

Monday, January 20, 2020

Musical Playgrounds: All About Fiddling

What is a fiddle?

Do you know what a fiddle is? A fiddle is a four-stringed musical instrument. The fiddle is a string instruments and looks very similar to a violin. In fact, both instruments are even played with a bow! (But did you know there is a difference between the two instruments? Learn the difference between the violin and fiddle!) While the bodies of the two musical instruments are the same, the set up of the violin and fiddle can differ. The fiddle is one of the oldest and most basic instruments in the history of music. The first historical mentions of the fiddle emerged from Europe some time in the 10th century. The fiddle is widely played in countries all over the world, and spans just about every genre of music! From folk music, to bluegrass, country and Celtic music, the fiddle is a widely loved musical instrument!

The Origins and History of the Fiddle

Facts About the Fiddle

  • Parts of the fiddle include the fingerboard, neck, bridge, sound hole, strings, back plate, tuning pegs, tailpiece, bass bar, and more.
  • The first manufactures of the fiddle and violin was Andrea Amati in Italy.
  • Depending where you are in the world, the fiddle varies. The Stroh fiddle and violin in Ireland has a horn on the side that the American fiddle does not.
  • It takes fiddle craftsmen over 200 hours to build a fiddle.
  • Fiddles are traditionally made out of wood, but in some countries you can find fiddles made out of metals such as tin cans.
  • In the early years, the strings for the fiddle were made of animal intestines. Today, they are often made from steel or aluminum.

Want to check out some famous fiddlers? Here's a good list to get you started:

Bob Wills

Craig Duncan

Hyram Posey

Aubrey Hayney

Hoot Hester

Justin Branum

Bobby Hicks

Charlie Daniels

Mark O-Connor

Jay Ungar

Natalie MacMaster

And here's a great list of other fiddlers to check out: List of Fiddlers and Fiddle Performers

Old-Style Fiddling

Irish and Celtic Fiddling

Fiddle Playing Guides and Music

Fiddle Clubs, Events, Magazine, Organizations & More!

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Get Your Playground in Shape for the New Year


It’s a New Year, time for new changes! Add proper playground maintenance to your list of resolutions this year to ensure the health of your playground, and most importantly, the safety of the children who play there. Small changes to your playground can lead to big improvements in the overall play experience. This creates positive results that include safe, happy children, a grateful community and a lovely playground.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention each year 200,000 children are admitted into the United States emergency rooms for playground related injuries. These injuries include fractures, internal injuries, concussions, dislocations and amputations. Proper maintenance ensures a safe play experience, protects your playground and limits liability if injuries occur.

Inspections and maintenance should be done on a regular basis: daily, weekly or monthly. Now is the perfect time to create a maintenance plan for the new year. Having a plan keeps you accountable and makes maintenance easier throughout the year.

Start small. Look for hazards that seem small but can turn into big issues in the future if not addressed. This includes broken glass, trash, vandalism, exposed tree roots and sharp rocks. These things can not only affect the look of your playground but can impede the fun for children.

Check surfacing for hazards. Make sure that surfacing is at the appropriate depth for the fall height, so that children have soft landing areas. Rubber mulch and engineered wood fiber may need to be raked back into place and refilled. Check Poured-in-Place surfacing for holes or scratches for which you will need to contact your installer for repairs.

Now for the big stuff. Carefully inspect your structure for any potential hazards that can harm the users of the playground. It is important that all equipment meets Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standards. Make sure all moving parts such as trapeze rings, swings, bridges or tunnels are secured and are not an entanglement hazard for children. Deterioration can happen over time in the form of rust or corrosion on metal or cracks and breakage on plastic. When these things occur try your best to replace the parts in the affected area. If these are not addressed, it can lead to bigger issues that can be expensive to fix. Also, check for properly tightened and/or missing bolts and clamps and check all barriers and panels and replace them if necessary. Be sure to check out the CPSC Public Playground Safety Handbook for more information!

Like any resolution, its best to track and record your progress. Follow your inspection and maintenance routine by writing detailed notes of your findings. Keep a record of when issues were found and when they were repaired or replaced. Keeping a record makes maintenance even easier for the future, and keeps you covered in the event of an injury.

If you need help jumpstarting your new goal, AAA State of Play offers maintenance services that are specific to your playground needs. We have multiple Certified Playground Safety Inspectors (CPSI) on staff who can help with your maintenance. Contact us to take advantage of our maintenance care specialists.

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

Monday, January 13, 2020

10 Benefits of Playing Outside in the Winter for Kids

Photo by: Free-Photos (pixaby)


As the weather outside is frightful and the fire looks delightful, it can be so easy to get lost in the rut of the indoors. Rather than venturing outdoors into the cold, many choose to hunker down in their warm bunkers at home. But there are so many reasons why it's worth digging out your winter gear and enjoying the winter wonderland outside. Before you get out to enjoy the unique experiences of winter, it is important to make sure that you and your family have the proper gear: warm hats, water-proof gloves, snow pants, warm socks, boots, and full-coverage face masks are all important winter clothing items that should be worn when playing outdoors for an extended period of time. In addition to proper clothing, it is also important to practice proper winter safety, keeping a close eye on children and other adults for signs that it may be time to retire back to the fire. Intense shivering, stiff muscles, and shallow breathing are only a few signs of hypothermia to be aware of. 

Beating Seasonal Depression - Playing outside in the winter can help dispel winter blues in both children and adults. Being active and enjoying nature are key parts of this.

Winter Fun and Risk Management - Children learn to access and handle risks better as they encounter slippery surfaces, frozen water, etc.

Cold Weather Exercise - Winter play can be more physically challenging as children push through snow, carry around snow, etc. This helps build physical health and wellbeing. It's great exercise.

Building Emotional Resilience - It helps children develop emotional resilience as they make the most of every environment and every season. 

It boosts the immune system  - It is easy for many to fall back on the "you'll catch your death of cold" excuse for not playing outside in the cold but, in fact, getting out into the fresh air and vitamin D can help children strengthen our children's immune systems.

Unique Sensory Experiences - Playing out in the snow and ice offers the children a special opportunity to enjoy and manipulate their environment. Using touch and playing with snow, children can learn and explore in a way that is unique to winter. 

Breathing Fresh Air - Breathing cold, fresh air helps to invigorate and strengthen the body, especially the lungs. Exposing the body to cold air supports respiratory health. Free of seasonal allergens, it offers us the opportunity for allergy sufferers the chance to get out and breathe clean air into their system.

Stimulating the Imagination - The unique elements of winter offer children opportunities that can't be found in any other season. Whether it's building with snow or playing with water and ice, winter play can be a fun seasonal solution for kids cooped up indoors. 

Problem Solving Skills - Navigating deep snow and slippery surfaces present challenges in seasonal play. Challenging kids to come up with their own solutions to these problems can empower them to make decisions and exercise their problem-solving skills, both 

Built-in Environmental Learning Opportunities - Fun lessons about earth science and weather can be done outside during the colder months and offer hands-on opportunities to learn and play at the same time. 

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

Monday, December 23, 2019

Unoccupied Play: What it is and Why it is So Important

Photo by pexels (pixabay)


Children play in many different ways and for many different reasons, even when it may not look like "traditional" play. Unoccupied play, may appear as random gestures and sporadic movements most commonly demonstrated by infants from birth to three months old. As random as they may seem, they are a meaningful attempt by the child to explore and learn about their environment and personal space. Unoccupied play helps to prepare babies for future play experiences by building their confidence and helping them to learn about their environment.

The building blocks of solitary play

Unoccupied play is precursory to solitary play, during which children play alone rather than others. Solitary play typically lasts through two years of age. The exploration of space and movement during unoccupied play prepared children to play alone and concentrate on activities while beginning to learn about cause and effect and explore creative play.

Sensory experiences

The exploratory movements of unoccupied play allow children to experience different sensations, textures, and materials. They may begin to practice manipulating objects and understand space. The freedom of unoccupied play encourages children to come to their own conclusions and make decisions without organization or expectation.

The development of motor skills

Although appearing as unengaged and stationary, young children are in fact engaged in unoccupied play that helps build a baby's motor skills, preparing children for more refined play in the future.

Understanding personal space and potential

During unoccupied play, infants may explore their range of motion and the potential they have to change their environment. Stretching, kicking, grabbing and gripping help babies build strength and challenge their muscles. These movements prepare them for more complex motions and sequences of movements as they develop.

Parents of young infants can keep in mind the many benefits of unoccupied play as they learn to engage with their children and support their development. It may not look like anything remarkable, but this phase of development is just the beginning of your child's play experience; soon enough they will be enjoying all of the different types of playground equipment.

The Different Stages of Play

Unoccupied Play

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

Monday, December 16, 2019

10 Ways to Have a More Playful 2020 No Matter Your Age!

Photo by tookapic (pixabay)


A new year is right around the corner and many of us are starting to gear up for our annual resolutions. This year, I'm choosing to make 2020 the year of fun and playfulness. Join in on the fun this year with some of these different ideas I've put together.

Explore Exercise as Fun

Many of us make an annual fitness resolution this time of year. Eat better, drink more water, exercise more. We sign up for the gym and by May, we've lost the momentum and motivation to achieve our goals. Let's make this year different by experiment with fitness. Try something new outside of the gym.

Dance Away Dreariness

This year, take time to dance more. Dancing releases endorphins that energize the body and spirit and is a great way to have some fun. Whether you take a dance class to learn something new, get together with some friends for a night out at your new favorite club, or simply dance around your kitchen with your kiddos to lift your spirits at the end of a challenging day, make this year one that is full of dance and laughter.

Walking Work Meetings

When so many of us endure days at our desks, it is important that we take steps to live healthily. Instead of your weekly board meeting in conference room 3, suggest to your team that you take a walk and talk. This might not work for all meetings, but when possible, get your coworkers to lace up their sneakers and join you for a power walk while you hash out the latest updates and progress reports.

Love Your Local Flavor

It's easy to overlook the charm of the town or city you live in after a while. This year, make a commitment to rediscovering your city and all of the wonderful things that it offers. Explore the latest happenings at the local library, visit local museums, support local businesses by patronizing shops in your downtown shopping district, support your local theater, enjoy a night of music with a local band. There are so many fun and unique reasons to love your town and it's time to dive into the scene and experience the unique local flavor around you.

Try a Trampoline Park

Trampoline parks, both outdoor and indoor have become popular among families looking for something new and exciting to do together. One of the biggest draws of these parks is that parents get to play with their kids, rather than standing on the sidelines.

Staycations

Staycations are a wonderful and relaxing way to have fun with family and friends. Take a few days or a week to relax locally, within a few hours of home; doing this allows for the benefits of a vacation without the stress and drawbacks of expensive travel and planning.

Find a Friend

Make 2020 the Year of the Friend. It can be tough to find friends for adults and families, but with the help of technology, it can be made easier. Peanut is an app made for moms to help them connect with others in their area that they might like to meet up with for play dates at the park or playground. Use online resources and apps to make real-life connections and find friends to share the fun with.

Play in the Pool

Swimming is an excellent way to have fun, relax, and get some exercise. And you don't need to own a pool to enjoy swimming. Many communities offer recreational swimming at community pools. You can also find a local hotel with an indoor or outdoor pool and book a room for a single night. This will give you access to the amenities to enjoy.

Join a Club

Take your hobby to the next level by joining a local club or group with the same shared interest. It can be so much fun to connect with others who share something you are passionate about. It can also help you reach new levels of mastery as you learn from others.

Find the Fun in Family

As with many things, fun also starts at home. Turn to your family, including kids, to brainstorm fun things that your family can do together. Allow for constructive conversation and include the kids in the decision-making to ensure that everyone has a say and the activities are varied.

Habits of Playful People

The Benefits of Being a Playful Person

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

Thursday, December 5, 2019

15 Vital Things Parents Should Know About Play

Photo by Skitterphoto (pixaby)


Play is an integral part of our children's growth and development, and outside of pure fun, there is so much to be gained from play. A healthy body and mind can both be aided by unstructured and structured playtime. The following are some of the many ways children can benefit from play immediately and in the long term.

Bonding through play

Play at any age or phase of development gives children and parents the opportunity to bond and learn about each other. During early development and young elementary, children and parents can develop deep connection and trust through play. The time and attention given to a child during uninterrupted play is invaluable in the bonding experience and can lay the foundation for a healthy parent/child relationship in the future.

Building motor skills through play

Play in many forms is an exercise in gross and fine motor skills, it allows children to practice important movements, focus, strength, and attention. Play is also an excellent way to observe a child's motor skills without interfering with the child's natural reactions and instincts.

Play to find balance

Finding a healthy balance between work, academics, family obligations, and fun is important in every family, because when one of these areas is out of whack, all others are impacted. When making a family schedule, it can be helpful to actually write playtime into the schedule, as that is often the first thing to go by the wayside when people get busy.

Play to reduce stress

When children are engaged in play, they may begin to relax. Nervous or anxious children may be more willing to engage when that engagement is facilitated through play. It is largely accepted that western culture values work and busyness over relaxation and play when compared to other parts of the world. Prioritizing play allows children to shed the weight of the day and relax without expectations or restraints.

Play to explore emotion

Dynamic play allows children to safely explore different emotions as they take on different personas through acting or role playing. This type of play also helps children to better understand a range of emotions from different perspectives. The emotional development practiced through play can translate into real-life application and help them to be more mindful, compassionate individuals.

Making the most of family time through play

Playing as a family, similar to bonding, helps to build a healthy parent/child relationship. It also facilitates important learning opportunities for children to help them to better understand what it means to be a team player, to share, and compromise. Children are observant and can learn a lot from watching their parents and other family members interact.

Children benefit academically from recess and play

Studies have shown the value of recess in our schools and we know that it is important for our children to exercise both their body and their mind daily. Play allows for a necessary mental break that helps in the processing of learned information. It also aids in a child's ability to focus in the classroom.

Leaving room for play is important for a child's mental health

Making time for play is important for a child's mental health. Again, in a culture that largely values full schedules and work, it is important that children be allowed to play in order to balance out the mental load of learning. Anxiety and stress may both be linked to a child being overscheduled or feeling great pressure to perform.

Promote a child's independence through play

Play is a great way for children to learn independence. Too often children are fed instructions on what they need to do and how they need to fill their time. Leaving a child to play without instruction challenges them to come to their own conclusions and empowers them to make decisions. Independent play also helps them to stretch their creative muscles.

Promote an active lifestyle through play

Play is a great way to instill in our children the importance of physical activity and allows them to explore movements that are healthy for their mind and body and bring them joy. If children are given the opportunity to play and exercise as a means of fun, they may be more likely to have a healthier approach to fitness as they grow and view it less as a chore.

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

7 Ways That Play Cultivates a Grateful, Optimistic Spirit in Children

Photo by ArtsyBee (pixabay)

In this season of gratitude and thanksgiving, I'd like to take the opportunity to bring some focus to what I've learned about raising children that are filled with gratitude and optimism. I believe that by cultivating these attributes in our children, we position them well to maintain a healthy outlook into their teen years and adulthood. But being grateful and thankful isn't something that children inherently understand; they need to be taught and shown thankfulness and given the opportunities to practice gratitude all year long.

Dramatic play builds understanding

Dramatic play or pretend play allows children to expand their understanding of the "other". By playing out a scene as a person other than themselves, they are challenged to experience the emotions of their character. This type of play helps children to access emotional awareness that can contribute to empathy and gratitude towards others.

Bring the focus of the day to the good

One of the principles that my house lives by is that attitude is a choice. We have the power to choose how we approach situations, both good and bad, and we can choose to have a good day and a positive experience. Making many choices throughout the day, we believe it is also important to recap the highlights of the day, focusing on the good and facilitating the opportunity for children to share the good they have experienced. This recap shines a new light on good things and can help bring attention to our good fortune.

Share your own appropriate personal experiences

When recapping the good experiences and opportunities for gratitude, it is also important to acknowledge things that you are grateful for. Children will follow the lead of their parents and by showing your own gratitude, you are encouraging them to do the same. Likewise, when the situation calls for it, sharing your past experiences of receiving kindness from others may encourage children to go out of their way to share with and care for others.

Facilitate opportunities to give back

Children learn well when they can experience first-hand how their actions impact others and help them to recognize the importance of kindness and gratitude. When teaching children about empathy and gratitude, consider offering them first-hand experiences, such as volunteer work, that would allow them to experience gratefulness on a deeper level.

Say thank you and heap praise yourself

From a young age, we teach children to say 'please' and 'thank you', but in many cases, it is more about manners than a sincere display of gratitude. Of course, manners are important, but sincerity is paramount. When you say thank you around your children, make sure that you are clear about what it is exactly, you are thankful for. Be it someone's time, skill, attention, etc. be clear and specific, rather than a blanket 'thank you'.

Gift experiences rather than material goods

Receiving gifts is certainly fun and exciting for children of all ages, but over-receiving may negatively impact a child and cause material gifts to become expected, rather than appreciated. Gifting experiences is one way to mitigate over-gifting and offers children the opportunity to enjoy an experience that lasts as a memory, adding to its unique value.

Children should contribute to the household

We've found that making chores a regular part of our children's days helps them to have a better grasp on the fact that a family is a community and it is important that we all work to make it a community we can to participate in. Chores encourage an appreciation for parents that can help shape the spouse and parent they grow up to be.

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

Monday, November 18, 2019

10 Ways to Help Shelter Animals This Holiday Season

Photo by KatinkavomWolfenmond (pixabay)

During the holiday season, there are so many opportunities to give back to those in need. Organizations see an influx of new volunteers eager to share in the spirit of giving and make a difference in their communities. Whether one chooses to donate time or items to a local food pantry, provide much-needed items to a local homeless or women's shelter, or to families in need, there is a nearby charitable cause that would certainly welcome another helping hand to meet the needs of those they serve. When considering which organization to contribute to this holiday season, please consider supporting your local animal shelter. Our furry friends are in great need of donations and volunteer time and here are some ideas for how you can help:

Volunteer your time

Volunteering your time is a very valuable way to help your community animal shelter. If doing so is something you are interested in, it is important to contact your local shelter as early as possible. Spots may be limited so you may need to be creative in how you choose to volunteer. Consider your unique skills and how they might be beneficial to your community.

Replace gifts with donated items

Rather than asking for gifts this season, consider asking friends and family to donate in your name to an animal shelter or animal organization you would like to support. Gifts of food or much-needed items also make wonderful gifts.

Support spay and neuter awareness

Spread the word about the importance of spaying and neutering cats and dogs. Addressing over-populations and avoiding increased instances of unwanted cats and dogs can help shelters better manage any overcrowding.

Transport animals in your community

Shelters in rural areas with low foot traffic often need to relocate animals to other shelters where the animals may have a higher likelihood of being adopted. Volunteers are needed to transport shelter animals, sometimes over several different states.

Create and donate toys and comfort items

If you have a passion for crafting, put your skills to good use and make handmade toys, blankets, and beds for shelter animals. Using pet-safe materials are a must and you may consider asking your local shelter what types of items they are in need of the most before getting started.

Offer pet owner's unique services and donate the proceeds

People love their pets and offering pet parents unique, pet-focused services is a great way to raise money for worthwhile causes.

Speak up for animals and speak out against mistreatment

As with the "see something say something" mantra against community violence, it is important to speak up when you see any type of animal mistreatment or neglect.

Walk shelter dogs in your spare time

Exercise is so important for animals, but sometimes it can be difficult for those in shelters to get the amount of fresh air and exercise they need to remain healthy and happy. Contact your local animal shelter to see if they have a need for a volunteer to take out their animals out for a walk in the dog park.

Foster homeless animals

Taking homeless animals into your home as an alternative to them living in a shelter is a noble act. Temporarily housing animals until they find their forever home helps to ensure that they are properly socialized, cared for, and connected to people.

Adopt a pet from a local shelter

Pet adoption is a wonderful act. Inviting a new animal into your family is also a big step. Carefully consider before adopting and make sure that you understand fully the commitment being made. Following the holidays, shelters may experience an influx of new animals to care for when families realize that adopting or purchasing a pet as a gift may not have been a good choice.

Help Your Kids Help Animals

How You Can Help the Humane Society

GoFundMe - Animals in Need

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Happy National Hiking Day! 10 Benefits of Hiking With Children

Photo by free-photos (pixabay)

November 17th is National hiking day and there's no better time to gather the family and hit the trails for a family hike. And, apart from being fun, there are so many benefits to taking the kids out into nature for some fresh air.

Stay Fit

Hiking is a wonderful way to stay fit and active, and for some it is more enjoyable than heading to the gym or a fitness class. Children and parents alike can stretch their legs and get a full-body workout, trekking over various terrain, be it flat or steep, there's still a good workout to be had.

Exposure to Sunshine and Vitamin D

In addition to exercise, hikers can benefit from a good dose of vitamin D. Vitamin D is important to our bodies and helps our bodies improve kidney function and aids in the absorption of calcium. It also helps to boost one's mood; making for a happy hiker and a healthy hiker.

Perform Better Academically

Growing evidence suggests that exercise can help students perform better academically. Hiking is an excellent way to clear the mind. Taking a needed break to recharge with fresh air, can aid in concentration once called back to their academic studies.

Build Self-esteem

Hiking can be a great way to build children's self-esteem. By taking the lead on a nature walk or hike, children can learn how to lead others. Learning the appropriate trail symbols can also allow them to put their learned skills into practice.

Exposure to Wildlife

Exploring nature and experiencing wildlife is a great way to open a child's eyes to the world around them. Learning to identify the plants and animals around them, and how they impact their ecosystem can help them to develop an appreciation for how all nature work in harmony. With guidance, children may also begin to grasp the concepts of interconnectivity in their own ecosystems and communities.

Cultivating Curiosity

Developing a curiosity for nature from a young age can help students develop a love of the sciences and reinforce concepts learned in the classroom. A family hike also gives young students the opportunity to teach their family about what they've been learning in school. The act of teaching empowers the students and helps them to build on and develop connections between the classroom and the real world.

Environmentalism

Hiking is also a good way to teach environmentalism. The next time your family is out enjoying a hike, bring along an empty trash bag to be filled with trash picked up along the trail. This act of community service teaches children the important concept of "leave no trace" and respecting the natural environment. This is also something that can be done on a smaller scale and with younger children at a local park.

Encourage Low-Tech Bonding

Hiking is largely low-tech. And while hikers might carry a GPS, there's no need to have phones and tablets out. By taking the screens out of the way, children are empowered to make real connections in real-time. Enjoy some one-on-one time with the family and reconnect in nature.

Teaches Life Skills

Hiking can teach us many things, including life skills that can translate into different aspects of life, including leadership skills, a good sense of direction, the importance of being observant. Problem-solving is also tested out on the trails as hikers may need to troubleshoot problems along the way.

Meeting New People

When out hiking, you never know what connections you might make. Hikers may be inclined to be friendly and start up conversations trailside, creating the opportunity to make new friends and meet people who share a passion for nature and the outdoors.

Five More Reasons to Hike with Your Kids

Hiking with Kids

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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