Tots on Trails is a fantastic 45 minute activity offered in Wakulla County twice a month for children ages 1-4. The class boasts a short hike and various activities to get your toddler out in nature with other children their age.
This fun activity is for both local children and those visiting on vacation. While many parents look for group activities, there are a number of reasons that outdoor play, in particular, should never be skipped. Here are 5 known benefits to attending Tots on Trails and other outdoor activities like it:
Reasons to Increase Your Toddler's Outdoor Activities
Improved Vision. Did you know that time outside is proven to reduce myopia in children? Myopia is the term for near-sightedness and, according to Optometry and Vision Science, outdoor time is known to decrease this vision impairment. While there are many reasons for this, what's proven is that outdoor time will increase your child's optical health.
Social Skills. Until children enter a school or daycare environment, they often have relatively few chances to socialize with other toddlers their age. Taking your child to areas where they have the chance to interact with others their age helps them learn valuable social skills and allows them the pleasure of making friends their age.
Allows for More Active Imagination Use. Often times, toddlers today spend a great deal of time playing on their parents' phone or iPad or watching TV. While these activities can teach them skills, they often diminish the child's opportunities to use their own imagination in the way real world activities will. In a real world hike through nature, they get to experience plants and environments they wouldn't normally see and that first-hand knowledge increases their experience and ability for imaginative play.
Reduce Risk of ADHD. Some studies suggest that time outdoors actually increases a child's ability to concentrate and that outdoor time on a regular basis would significantly improve symptoms associated with ADD and ADHD.
Healthier Lifestyle. Time outdoors is the best way to get the body's necessary vitamin D intake (an important vitamin that many adults and children are not getting enough of in their diet today). These activities also positively impact physical exercise levels and decrease obesity.
Below is a testimonial from a Tots on Trails regular, Yana Stevens:
"I don’t have enough words to express how great “Tots on Trails” program is and how awesome Ranger Heather is. The kids love her! We started attending it with my son about 5 years ago. He was 2 then and he enjoyed it a lot because it was always so much fun. Now he is in first grade and we are attending this program with my 3-year-old daughter.
This program has a great combination of learning time, play time and craft time. Everybody knows that toddlers have a very short attention span. This program really takes it into consideration. It always starts with some kind of project.
During this time the children learn about nature, they learn about plants, trees, flowers, animals, and insects. Moreover, it acquaints them with the world in general. It could be something like looking in a microscope at different leaves, or feathers, or butterfly wings, or cicadas, or they may do some leaf rubbing, or could make a sun catcher, or could make some flowers, or do some stamping or tracing.
Ranger Heather always comes up with such great ideas. It is always something new. But what is wonderful is that every time, the program has its own theme and all those activities are built around it.
After craft/play time and learning time, children get to participate in the second half of the program, which is called “Nature Walk.” Children usually go for a short hike on St. Marks refuge, observing the nature or looking for animal tracks, or they could do a scavenger hunt. They just love it!
Nature walk always have a quiet time. During this time everybody just sit down and need to be quiet. After that children get to tell what they heard – birds, or wind, or acorns falling down. It is just so important for them to learn to relax and learn to listen.
Nowadays children have too much access to TV and all kinds of electronic devices. Sometimes they don’t even spend enough time outside exploring the world around them or simply playing in the mud. And if you take their iPad away or don’t let them play video games or watch TV, then they don’t know what to do with themselves.
This program helps to prevent all those problems and to raise a healthy generation, that is considerate of others and the world around them. This program helps them to learn about, understand, and love our natural environment which is so important."
If you're looking for a fun activity to enroll your child in, Tots on Trails can be an excellent experience for children and families alike.