Wednesday, November 14 , 2018, 4:38 pm | Fair 70º


Captain’s Log: The Outdoors Through a Child’s Eyes

Many (perhaps too many) of my columns are about the outdoors world of adults or teenagers. Little kids have a much different perspective on the outdoors, which may be confined to the backyard on many days. Actually, this is a great place to begin a lifelong study of the great outdoors because backyards can be full of flora and fauna to explore and learn about interdependencies.

My wife, Cathy, runs a state-licensed child day-care service in our home. We have a bunch of youngsters — from newborns to school age — at our place all week long. When you or someone you know needs child care, call Cathy at 805.964.2046. She has years of experience, awesome skills and she cares deeply about children.

In child care, it is important to learn about letters, words, books, shapes, colors, interaction with kids and myriad other valuable lessons. But at Cathy’s Daycare, she understands how important it is to spend time outdoors, not only to burn off steam and to play, but also to take the time to observe and learn about the outdoors around them.

In a way, the limited space of a backyard makes a perfect-size outdoors classroom for kids because it is of a size that they can wrap their minds around. Our backyard is surrounded by trees where the wind shakes the leaves and brings some down to the ground for a closer look and a talk about the trees.

Heather (our daughter who works with Cathy) makes a point of showing the kids leaves from the same trees throughout the year as the leaves change, to teach them about the changing seasons and how plants need to be taken care of and how they care for us. Lessons taught also include how insects and birds use plants for food and nesting spots.

Birds flit through trees and bushes, perching on branches and twigs to make themselves heard, which fascinates kids when the time and care are taken to point it all out and talk to them about how those critters live and thrive.

One of the most exciting moments for children outside is when a butterfly visits and delights with its erratic flights of fancy, which bring it almost within reach.

All it takes is saying to a child, “Look, there is a small brown bird up in that tree. Can you see it? Do you want to know what it is hoping for today and what it is worried about today?” That creates an opportunity to teach how that bird is not so different from us, in that it wants something to eat and drink, wants to play, make a friend, find a comfortable spot to rest and, above all, to stay safe.

Outdoors lessons are part of the curriculum at Cathy’s Daycare and should be a part of the packet of lessons for everyone who teaches and takes care of children.

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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