The outdoors can be a therapeutic place for children with disabilities ranging from a missing limb to being diagnosed with ADHD. Many organizations specialize in outdoor services geared to providing a safe place for children with disabilities, whether physical or mental, and provide a unique learning environment that these kids do not often experience at the average, every day public school. Now with the use of web 2.0 tools and the Internet, students no longer need to solely rely of these out of school programs in order to take advantage of what the great outdoors can offer students with disabilities. If you teach in an area of the country that does not offer such extracurricular programs, geocaching can be taught as an outdoor activity that children with disabilities can participate in, no matter where they go to school.
According to ScienceDaily.com, studies have shown that when children diagnosed with ADHD play outside in a “green setting” their symptoms of hyperactivity, lack of concentration and poor impulse control are reduced. Other research has shown that when children with ADHD participate in outdoor activities, consequently providing sunshine and green surroundings, they are less stressed and are more focused. An article on Parenting247.org states that pleasurable outdoor experiences can help students with recall skills, be more creative and creative problem-solving skills. For these reasons, teachers are discovering the benefits of geocaching and how beneficial it can be to students with ADHD.
Geocaching is a hands-on activity that uses Global Positioning Satellites and a handheld device (GPS) used to read the satellite data which is then used to direct the student to objects called caches and/or specific places on earth. While participating in a geocaching assignments, students, working both independently or with other students, use longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates to complete the given task of finding the assigned cache. These caches can be sample rock formations that the students are studying in science class located in a state park or previously place objects found on the school’s campus.
Most geocaching involves mathematics, science, geography and understanding nature. All of these subjects are important for all students but for students diagnosed with ADHD, the most important aspect of geocaching is not the type of cache they find but being outside in an atmosphere that helps manage their disability.