What is it about the outdoors?
All our children love the outdoors but child 4 in particular is in his element. It doesn't matter the weather, wind, rain, snow or sun he just wants to be outside. Outside he can run about, spin around arms out stretched, he can climb trees, jump in muddy puddles and shout and scream, he can be free of all constraints.
Being outside means that I am not distracted by the ironing, cooking dinner or the phone, my focus is all on him, we often have our best conversations on our way to the farm or doing the school run. We spend time just being together, heads close as we watch a caterpillar slowly inch its way across the path, following bees and butterflies from flower to flower and heads lifted to the sky watching the peregrines swoop and dive.
We play together building dens in the garden, jumping on the trampoline, we blow bubbles, play with water and sand, we dig and plant seeds and we feed the chickens and collect their eggs.
When we are indoors we expect different behaviour from our children, we want them to have indoor voices, climbing up a bookcase or jumping from sofa to chair is dangerous, playing with water means flooding the bathroom. Even painting, playdough and glueing and sticking are usually constrained to one room often a kitchen table and the activity is followed by as much time cleaning up as playing together. I often find life is tougher indoors than out, we are quicker to stop our children from exploring when they are climbing on the windowsills. We silent their excited screams and thumping footsteps. We call a halt to those noisy active chasing games, sometimes mistaking the noise for arguing and fighting. They themselves are more likely to irritate each other if we spend too much time together within the four walls of our home.
This half term, we took advantage of the few decent days of weather. We have built a den in an unused area of the vegetable patch and we have travelled to the Wild Place a huge acreage full of woodland walks, meadows with towers awaiting wild flowers to show their faces. Barefoot trails, woods full of wolves, lemurs enjoying the sun. Zebra, okapi and eland wander through their enclosures and hogs wallow in their mud pits digging for vegetables.
Now the weather shows signs of getting better I at least can consider being outdoors more, I am planning a forest school area where the den has been built and with child 1 needing to build her cardio vascular strength for her Borneo trip we will be walking more, climbing hills and strolling through woods. We can climb trees, fish in the streams nearby, run through fields and explore the nearby woods. We can build fire pits to cook marshmallows over, grow beans over the den, we can make a mud kitchen and fill the sandpit. The farmer behind us has said we can feed the lambs in a few weeks when he is over run with new ones being born. Everyone of these activities are learning opportunities. Not just counting and speaking, but also cause and effect, building, learning responsibility and most importantly bonding.
ROLL ON SPRING.