I hope we all had a wonderful long weekend last week and managed to find time just to be, to be playful and to enjoy a slower pace for a few days.
I was fortunate enough to spend time in the countryside and to begin my exploration of this amazing country. I really took advantage of the peace and tranquility that being in nature can bring and I was reminded of a wonderful poem by William Martin*
"Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is the way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself."
I love this poem because it helps to remind us all to slow down a little and notice the amazing things all around us. In Early years this week, I have seen children marvel at the beauty of dried leaves and pine cones, they have created houses out of the leaves and told us stories about who might live there. The infinite and complex patterns of pine cones would enthrall any age group as it can represent an alien spaceship early years and also a wonderful example of the Fibonacci sequence and spirals for our older children to investigate.
As we want to encourage our children to be lifelong learners and to really love learning we can share in the fascination of what appears to be ordinary. Think of the magic that happens when you bake a cake; we take simple ingredients such as flour, eggs, butter and sugar and magically transform them into a delicious cake, this is amazing everyday science.
When you are walking around notice the wide range of noises and smells that fill the environment. Enjoy the sensory experience of touching a flower, tree bark or a leaf. We teach children how to use their senses when they are very small but as they grow these everyday things just melt into the background.
Children can also remind us to live in the moment; they base their feelings and reactions on events as they happen. If they are sad or angry it’s usually over some argument or about a game or sharing a toy but the minute that they get distracted those negative emotions disappear and they are living in the new now whereas as adults we often hang on to those negative emotions which can accumulate over time and cause stress and anxiety.
We can also see how children have such a clear single focus, watch any child playing a game, they are thinking totally about the game and not worrying about the tree they are going to climb next or the picture they are going to paint.
Curiosity is the key in developing a love of learning and the strategy for living in the moment. We want our children to be motivated to acquire new skills or knowledge or to build on existing skills or knowledge. We want them to be totally engaged in an activity and to forget about what time it is. We want them to feel great when they are learning new things and to appreciate every aspect of the world in which they live.
*William Martin, The Parent's Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for Modern Parents