Who needs worksheets and rote learning when you have nature and time to explore?
A few months ago we had a school group visit our TimberNook Newcastle program.
I struggle with the concept of traditional schooling.
I struggle with the need for children to sit at desks.
I struggle with the worksheets.
I struggle with rote learning. I struggle with the lack of play.
I struggle with the amount of learning that takes place indoors.
So when a group of 7 and 8 year old gets the opportunity to come to our muddy, outdoor, risky, physically challenging, unstructured piece of paradise, you almost expect them to go a little wild.
They have the freedom to be loud (so, so loud).
They have the freedom to explore.
They have the freedom to create.
They have the freedom to get messy (so, so messy).
And yes, they do all of those things. But then something else happens. After 30 minutes or so, they begin to settle into play.
They become thoughtful about what they are exploring.
They connect with others.
They become intentional about how they create their space.
They become focussed on what lights them up.
And this is where the magic happens. This is where we see things like this:
Had you said to this child "sit down and write me the alphabet" or "trace over this stencil of the letter A" they may well have done it, but this unscripted moment of exploration and creativity on nature is so much more.
It's an opportunity to connect with the earth.
It's an opportunity to manipulate natural materials (hello fine motor skills).
It's an opportunity to become creative.
It's an opportunity for the senses.
And they are "doing literacy". How simple is that? Simple, and child led. It's what learning needs to be. Why do we have a tendency to overcomplicate the way in which children learn? When we head out into nature, when we slow down and let children explore and create and wonder, magical things happen. Learning happens.