During warmer weather, many member of our local homeschool group have a weekly get-together at a local park for fun and exploration. There is play equipment for those who want to play. There are some woods with trails and a small creek for those who want to explore. It’s a big beautiful park, just perfect for our group.
We were only able to join the group a couple of times last fall before the weather got too cold and everyone retreated to warmer meeting places. Last week we joined the group for the first time this year and all three of us looked forward to being there again today.
It’s been very good for my girls, especially my oldest, who needs time to warm up to new people and new situations. She definitely enjoys staying in her comfort zone. Her safe place. Unfortunately, staying in that place isn’t always the best and last week, when her little friend didn’t show up to the park, she became a bit anxious. That someone, who makes her feel comfortable, was not there and she was not happy. She was being forced to move outside that box of security and I wasn’t sure she would leave, but she did. It took some time, but she began engaging with other kids and by the end of the afternoon she had created new friendships.
This week she was a different kid. She seemed to have a new-found independence and she began to soar. She ran off with kids she had not played with in the past and there were many smiles and much laughter. One of the boys was celebrating his 8th birthday and brought some fun equipment for exploring nature. With my girls and some other kids tagging along, they headed down to the creek in search of natures treasures. Several minutes later excitement exploded like fireworks on the 4th of the July. They had caught a snake. Okay, my girls didn’t actually participate in the catching of the snake, but they were there watching as the snake was caught and placed in a net and brought back for the moms to see. My oldest was beaming with excitement, while my youngest was beaming with uncertainty. Should she be excited or frightened? She just wasn’t sure. My oldest touched the snake and allowed it to wrap itself around her hand. My youngest sat back watching and talking about the danger of this non-venomous snake as the adults explained all the positive attributes of this particular snake.
These are the kind of homeschooling experiences I want for my girls. Experiences that allow them to learn thru childhood exploration. Experiences that leave an impression. I want them to look back on their education and remember that day at the park when the snake was caught and how they examined the snake, one up close and the other from a distance. These are the kind of experiences that trigger interest and that interest creates opportunity for learning. Today’s experience most certainly leading to a study of snakes.
We will continue to meet at the park as often as we can. My girls will build friendships, create memories and experience education brought to us by nature.