Taking School Outdoors - SLO Classical Academy
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Welcome to Down Home, San Luis Obispo Classical Academy’s blog! We are a classical school offering several options to make our education work for families with infants through high schoolers. Our signature hybrid program, which is part-time classroom and part-time home instruction, provides an engaging education for preschool through middle school (with full time options available). We also have a university model high school. This blog is meant to support and encourage on the home front because, in so many ways, the heart of what happens at SLO Classical Academy happens down home.

Semper discentes—always learning together.
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Taking School Outdoors

{photo by Brandy Potts}

Announcement: This month’s character trait drawing winner is Anne Trott! Congratulations Anne, look for a gift card in your family file soon! 

Tomorrow, March 20th, is the official First Day of Spring – hooray! Although we have fairly mild winters here on the central coast, thoughts of spring do make one think of getting outdoors, and today we want to encourage you to think about taking school outdoors! Whether simple and spontaneous, or a planned activity, getting outside and spending some time in the sunshine can do wonders for homeschooling kids AND parents!

Charlotte Mason, a British educator who lived in the late 1800s and early 1900s, encouraged spending time outdoors, interacting with and learning the living ways of nature. Here are a few suggestions for taking school outside:


  • Practice math facts while jumping rope or jumping on the trampoline.
  • Make large dice out of boxes and play dice games on the lawn.
  • Read history or literature outside. Let the kids act out what you’re reading. 
  • Have your kids read to you outside while you lounge and work on your tan.
  • Let your student write outdoors, inspired by nature.
  • Make oversized paper airplanes with big paper and race them.
  • Make a Nature Scavenger Hunt:


  • And then of course there’s the nature journal… 

A nature journal is an enjoyable and easy way to incorporate outdoor learning time, and it doesn’t have to be “another thing to add to the grid.” You can keep it casual, fun, and non-schooly. Maybe keep a special bag with a notebook and some pencils for each child in the car so that when you find yourself at a park, the beach, the zoo, on a hike, or any interesting outdoor location, the kids can spend some time exploring, gathering, and sketching. Or if they don’t want to sketch, let them take photographs, and/or let them collect things to tape or glue into their notebooks.


Keeping a nature journal helps kids notice the details in nature around them, and it can be an entertaining keepsake for the future as well. You child can continue to add to it over the years and watch how their skills develop.


  • You might want to get a few field guides about plants or animals – kids enjoy looking at them and they are great to have with you when you’re sketching in a nature journal.


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How do you take school outdoors? Please leave a comment and share your ideas! 

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