We went to an open, grassy space a while back and just spent the day. I sat on the grass with the baby and let them explore.
My little 4-year-old is fascinated with birds. She found a tree with a nest and some baby birds that were getting able to hop in and out of their nest. Their momma must have been used to people, because she wasn’t too worried about the girls getting pretty close and watching.
It was so cool. The 4-year-old kept looking for things to feed the babies. She didn’t actually find anything they would really eat, but it was wonderful to watch her mind work and go through possibilities of why or why not something would be good for the babies to eat. That type of thinking process is exactly what I want them to gain from this form of learning. I don’t want them to sit in a room all day being told what to write down. I want them to be out, digging through the grass for bugs, thinking about why or why not a baby bird would like it.
While my 4-year-old was doing that, my 7-year-old was fascinated with the momma bird’s call. She began to imitate it, timidly at first. With some gentle encouragement from me, she gradually raised her voice and called out more and more confidently to the bird, each time sounding closer to what she sounded like.
After ten minutes or so, she suddenly did something right and the momma bird cocked her head and called right back. She gasped and her eyes lit up. She called back and she and the bird went back and forth again and again for a half an hour. There is no academic folder you can stuff that in. There is no “educational” compartment it fits into. But something about that experience is magical and builds your imagination and your soul.
Other girls spent their time building fairy houses out of pinecones.
I wouldn’t trade that day for anything. It wasn’t academic. It was perfect beauty and it added to their substance and their minds in ways I can’t calculate.