That Agape Family

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Tag: free spirit

Balanced and Barefoot

I started reading Balanced and Barefoot by Angela J. Hanscom nearly a year ago, and I couldn’t put it down. It really spoke to my intuition that my children need to be outside. That the outdoors is an essential part of their development, and that I needed to be mindful of getting outside on a regular basis. And not only getting outside, but allowing them to explore with their whole body, mind, and soul.

I borrowed a copy from our local library, and devoured it quickly. In fact, Hanscom’s Timbernook forest play program was the inspiration behind a local forest free play group that I initiated after being a part of an established Forest school group, here in Toronto.  If you’ve been following my posts, you’ll have seen many  of our forest experiences that I’ve shared. I treasure our time in the Great Outdoors. It is calming, invigorating, energizing, balancing, and grounding.

Little Miss (4.5 years) and Sweet Pea (16 months)

The main focus of Hanscom’s book is that children NEED to be outdoors to develop appropriately, physically and psychologically. She noted that children today lack simple coordination skills because they aren’t given the opportunity to develop them. Simple things like walking on an uneven surface, rolling down a hill, and balancing on a log – things we enjoyed as children – are deemed “too risky” nowadays, depriving children of the opportunity to develop physiologically. The impact this has later on in life is remarkable. Did you know that children have started falling out of their chairs, while simply sitting in them, because they haven’t developed their core balance when they were younger? Children are more accident prone now than ever!

When children aren’t given the opportunity to “get messy and make mistakes” (thank you Miss Frizzle, of the Magic School Bus), they lack resilience later on. While we think we are protecting our children when they’re younger, we are actually putting up barriers for them later on in life.

The other component of Timbernook, and the reason I started a spin off group, was the idea of imaginative play. At Timbernook, the students are given the freedom to become pirates, astronauts, knights, and explorers. The only thing we bring to the forest is a bag of simple water toys. I have seen the children make a “hot tub”, bow and arrows, castles, etc.  When given time and freedom, children’s imaginations will blossom. and fun will ensue. We try to be as hands off as possible, allowing the children to understand their own limitations, and establish their own risk assessment. We also span a wide age range of 1 to 7 years.

I was truly inspired by Balanced and Barefoot. I highly recommend it to all parents and educators as an encouragement to make getting outside a priority. Our children will be better off for it.

Blessings,

Liz

How often do you get back to nature?

Roll With It

The other day, we went to the park. There’s a lovely new park near our house, so with the warmer weather, we headed down. Little Miss was having fun on the various equipment there, when she noticed 3 children rolling down a hill (who needs toys, right?). Well, she marched herself up to the top of the hill, lied down, and rolled down the hill, making corrections to her direction as she went.

It may be hard to see in the photo, but there she is, in her purple sweater. Do you notice something? She’s the only child in the photo. You see, moments before I snapped this pic, the parents of the other children went over and scolded them. Granted, I think the main reason they were reprimanded is because at the top of the hill is a main street, but there’s a sidewalk in between, and they weren’t all that close to it, to be honest. However, there are many reasons parents discourage this type of activity. They may not want their child’s clothes to get dirty, or perhaps they think it’s a silly concept.

But, you know what? Rolling (and spinning around in circles) is good for a child’s development. In her book, Balanced and Barefoot, Angela Hanscom explains how the motion of spinning is key to proper balance development in children. Remember back in the day when we had those awesome merry go rounds? They were a good thing! Our park has this neat little contraption:

Little Miss loves going “faster”! Even Sweet Pea wanted to try this past trip, and she just turned one.

Let them roll! It’s good for them.

Blessings!

Liz

P.S. What was your favourite piece of equipment on the playground when you were a kid?

Her Journey Stick

As I may have mentioned before, we are part of a Forest School Playgroup. We meet once a week, year round, in the forest. We have a beautiful creek that the children can explore, as well as fallen trees that are great for climbing. So, if you happen to see photos of us in the forest, they are likely from our playgroup.

One of the leaders brought yarn last week, so the children could make Journey Sticks. My mom had told me about them a few months ago, so I was eager to see if Little Miss was interested in making one. The purpose of the Journey Stick is to attach items you find along your journey – a collection of sorts – to a stick of your choice. Here is hers:

She chose flowers, weeds, leaves, and grass, because she felt they were beautiful. Some children decided to attach acorns, while others wanted a rock – creativity was needed to attach those items.

A journey stick is a fun way to have a momento from the forest. However, please be aware of your impact on your surroundings. This is not an activity we do every week, nor do we regularly pick items from the forest. Some flowers are protected in Ontario (like the Trillium), and if you pick them, you can face hefty fines. We generally take the approach of take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints, but occasionally, we create something from the forest. We try to be as hands on as possible, while also minimizing our impact as much as we can.

Blessings!

Painted Toes

The first post. No pressure or anything, right?

The other day, my daughter (Little Miss) was playing outside (a very common occurrence), and said “Look Mommy, I painted my toes!”

Painted Toes WM

 

We aren’t afraid to get dirty in our household. My heart swells when she digs in and gets dirty. We are very blessed to have 3 older girls living next door to us, who also love to make mud pies, and thrive in the dirt. You can often find Little Miss trying to make “soup”, and if there’s an  opportunity to include water, she dives right in.

So, I invite you to follow us as we embark on an adventure (one of her favourite words), and learn and grow together.

 

Blessings,

Liz

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