Despite how confident I am in unschooling as a choice for my kids’ education, there are certainly days when I have my insecurities. Today I was thinking that we hadn’t done much this week except “play around”. No matter how many times I ponder this I still find myself succumbing to this notion that I’m supposed to be “doing something”. Three things dispensed me of that notion today.
The first was recognizing that Summer Vacation is about to begin. School kids are out for the summer now, so they won’t be doing any “schooling stuff” either. I decided to consider this our summer vacation, too, relieving myself of the pressure to organize activities and order the children’s learning somehow. Phew! I’m off the hook!
The second was reminding myself, for the millionth time, that my kids are young. DD is not quite five yet, and I honestly believe that there is nothing a child of five needs to know that they can’t pick up by just being a kid and playing in the way that kids that age want to play. As I’ve documented here before, this naturally includes all sorts of learning experiences, thus also relieving me of the pressure to make sure they do stuff that “teaches something”.
The final realization came today. It was a gorgeous day, but I didn’t feel like being out in the sun, so I decided to take the kids to our nearby Massive Urban Park for a walk around Beaver Lake. It’s actually within walking distance of our apartment, but it’s a bit of a walk for the children and I wanted to go strollerless today. It would take you about five minutes to drive there, perhaps less than that with no traffic.
In our short walk along one side of the lake we saw: a group of bumblebees busily gathering nectar from some flowers that looked a bit like daffodils (growing right out of the lake), dragonflies of various sizes, a butterfly that wasn’t white (as most of them around the city are), hoverflies, red-winged blackbirds, mallards, a turtle sunning itself on a log, and a frog. The frog swam quite close to us and hung out next to a lily pad while I took photos. There were also numerous chickadees flying about which we knew from previous experience would eat right out of your hand should you offer it.
We talked about the various creatures we saw, what they were doing and how. DD asked what the “purpose” of Canada Geese is; most would say “to be really annoying and poop everywhere”, but she was asking because she is starting to understand that creatures are all interconnected. We had just talked about what would happen if there were no bees, so it was neat to see her applying this idea to other creatures.
I marvelled for the umpteenth time how lucky we were to have such bounteous natural beauty right in the heart of the city. It’s hard to imagine looking at this photo of the kids staring across a very plant-dense lake that we are mere minutes from the downtown core.
But the ultimate lesson that was driven home to me that day was that Learning Happens. On “beach days” when we end up going through tidepools and looking for crabs, on “woods walk” days when we see all sorts of creatures, even when we end up at the water park and the kids play with how water moves when it’s coming out of a hose, a pipe, or a spout in the ground (and how, when you block one spray, the others get more intense – water pressure)…all these things we just “do for fun” are educational. THIS is learning. So even though I feel like we’re not “doing anything” with respect to schooling, we are.
One of these days I won’t have to keep being reminded of it. But then again, it’s nice to experience the joy of discovery over and over again, lol.