I came across this image on one of my favorite blogs, and borrowed it from the owner. I do hope you will visit her page. Most is in German, some in English, all quality. There is a serenity to be found on her blog which feeds my soul on many a day.
The reason this image spoke to me is because it reminds me so much of my wonderful childhood in Germany, and how sad I often feel that my children did not get to experience something similar.
Arguably the happiest years of my childhood were spent in Wahlwies, a small hamlet in Southern Germany not far from the Bodensee, or Lake of Konstanz how it is known in the rest of the world. We moved there when I was seven years old and the street I lived on was at the foot of of a large ridge of hills which were turned into orchards below and tall towering forest above. An independent spirit, and luckily born with a built-in compass I was allowed to roam my world fearlessly. The orchards, the fields, the forests were my playground and the only limitation was my curfew.
There is something so pedagogic in being a child allowed to explore and learn from ones natural surrounding, unhindered, unfettered and untaught. Don’t get me wrong, I did go to school. And it was a Waldorf school at that; what I meant was that I enjoyed my world without an adult turning it all into a ‘learning experience.’ If my daughter hadn’t had such severe allergies I would have had her and her brother experience far more of the natural world, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. But back to learning experiences.
One of the ‘modern education tools’ which I too was suckered into after reading books on parenting and education was to use every opportunity as ‘learning experiences.’ What better way to suck the happiness out of a child’s natural ability to discover, experience, deduce, and absorb than that.
We also forget that fewer toys but those being good quality, interactive toys are better than a profusion of toys, even if those are considered educational. Being bored is a good thing for kids. Let them be bored, turn off the media, and let them be bored. Young kids will find, after some initial resistance, ways to entertain themselves. Let them have boxes, pieces of wood (don’t worry about minor stuff like splinters), let them have age appropriate tools (don’t worry about minor cuts, or banged up thumbs), and let them have fun. Let them learn in the way nature programmed them to.
If I could have a do-over knowing what I know now, I’d keep my mouth shut, but offer plenty of opportunity to explore and learn. To do stuff and figure it out. The thing we adults know but forget at the same time because it has, in a way, become counter-intuitive is that for kids learning is organic. It’s normal. They breathe, they learn. They don’t pay attention to the fact that they are breathing, nor do they pay attention to the fact that they are learning. They just do. But adults have forgotten about learning organically. So we feel the need to bring their attention to it and then we mess it all up.
Go now, even if your kids are grown up, go and find some blue skies and some green grass, and just live in that moment.