I don’t do too many of planned educational activities with Alder, we have new things that I introduce that become regulars while others get phased out for a while. I figure that this part of Alder’s life should be about playing, exploring and interacting. There will be plenty of time in his life that he will be focusing on learning activities. That doesn’t mean that he isn’t exposed to learning or activities. Since the snow melted we have set up a permanent painting table up on the porch, he can go out anytime and paint.
In the kitchen he has another little table that he uses for cutting, drawing, collages, and play-dough (when Mama doesn’t burn it). Last week we made a successful batch of play-dough, but by Wednesday I could sense that he was experiencing play-dough burn out (that’s when he asks for it but only plays with it for a few moments). So the next morning I decided that the play-dough needed a new life so before I gave it to him I hid 10 buttons in it for him to find. Digging out the buttons and creating new button and dough concoctions kept him busy for close to an hour!
We’ve also spent a lot of time lately identifying the flowers and birds that we come across on our walks. Oddly Alder gets very upset if I try to use a guide while were looking at the flowers, so I’ve got a lot of mental pictures that I look up later to tell him the next time we see them. Once he learns a new flower he likes to find all of them that are out there. Right now every yard in town is covered in violets and dandelions, making for slow progress some days.
What I try to keep in mind throughout our days is how each of these activities that he finds nurtures his natural curiosity. We don’t talk in terms of educational goals or benchmarks (a phrase I hate) yet it is clear to us what we want for him the same what we want for ourselves. It is best summed up by David Orr from Earth in Mind.
We can attempt to teach the things that one might imagine the earth would teach us: silence, humility, holiness, connectedness, courtesy, beauty, celebration, giving, restoration, obligation and wildness.
What do you keep close to you that leads your life?