9 Feb 2012
I am part of a controversial fringe community. We believe children learn best in the great outdoors, not inside a brick school building. The kids are not graded. They don't take tests. Math, language, science are all taught through the filter of the outdoors and art supplies. There is no TV or computer; we just wipe pop culture completely off the table. And the outdoors is their culture.
This sends most people of traditional educational models into a tizzy; I have had countless heated discussions with mainstream mothers about such a fringe methodology to learning. They think I am beyond nuts.
We are firm in the backing of neuroscience research in what we're doing (no "nature deficit disorder" here), plus, you cannot deny the kids' resulting internal/external glow.
We families come from around the world to a special place to raise our kids in the mountains. They climb, hike, point out edible plants, and identify wildlife enclosures. If they don't come back with dirty pants, I ask why they're having a bad day (such days I can count on two fingers).
Today after a steep trek at the top, my little asked where the trail ended as she surveyed the peaks.
"Do you remember where we watched the coyote pull apart the hen all over that one meadow?"
"O, Yeah. I remember! That's where it ends?"
They know about ecology, sky burials, and how all creatures can heal the planet. They are learning meditation and yoga. One could make acorn stew if needed.
As I looked around, the descent appeared a little tricky. It was mostly cracked earth and choss, to say very slippery, on a very steep grade.
"Well, darlin', there is only one way down," I said and squatted.
She mirrored me.
"Hold here," as I placed her hand on my military bag strap. "Now, hang on. This is what I call sneaker skiing." Gravity took hold. We slid down the decline. Her giggles became guttural laughter.
She screamed, "You are so much fun, Mommy!"
My theory is if we're not dirty, I'm not doing something right.
Get back to nature. Dip your fingers in. Always carry water. And shower later.