With all the talk about kids going back to school, I've been thinking a lot about the flaws in the American education system. Teachers expect even the youngest of children to sit at desks all day, complete stacks of worksheets, and (now with elearning) stare at a screen all day. How do we expect to teach a love of learning when these are the expectations?
Scrolling through Facebook i stumbled upon a quote "We should be conscious of the children who spontaneously sing, dance, leap and exhibit other natural expressions of joy and emotion. They are like a canary in the coal mine in terms of developmental education. Once these impulses are suppressed, we often spend our entire adult lives trying to recover that state of wonder and being (Nicolette Sowder)."
All day, children are reminded to 'sit still,' 'put your feet under the table,' 'raise your hand,' and 'catch a bubble.' But this is in a classroom with walls. While some kids may be ok in this type of environment, many struggle. They begin to act out, get in trouble, and even miss out on treats because they were 'bad.' But they aren't bad; they're just being kids. They want to run, climb, holler, and be free, and instead they're stuck in a four walled room.
What if we had no walls? What if we spent our days outside instead? Some adults think 'that sounds fun,' but are concerned about children being ready for kindergarten. Unfortunately, there is a flawed concept of what it means to be ready for kindergarten and the process we must take to get there.
So, can children learn all of the essential social, emotional, and academic skills while freely playing in wild spaces. The answer is YES! Instead of sitting on the carpet talking about the weather, they can be outside experiencing the weather. Instead of siting at a table trying to write their name when they lack the fine motor skills to do so, they could be strengthening their hand muscles climbing trees. Instead of being told how to build an enclosure for a plastic zebra during zoo week, they can research what bugs need to survive and then spend their day constructing a home for their new bug friends.
Don't suppress their impulses to run, jump, yell, and climb, encourage it! "Keep your children wild- don't make them grow up too fast. Let them spend their days in the sunshine using their imagination. They are the change! Those wild children daydreaming in the sunshine will grow into grounded adults with minds and spirits capable of creating a better future (Brooke Hampton)."