Mamma's School

Home Education Adventure

Category: Parenting (Page 1 of 4)

Imaginative Play – Let Them Learn Their Way.

So, it is Wednesday morning in our home, our little lady has trotted up the road to school, and it’s me and the boys home alone.  Usually, after I have sorted the washing (I swear there are people living in secret with us, the amount of socks that come out!), and done some housework, it is time for a little more formal literacy and maths with the mini men.  However, by the time I got to them this morning, there was a mountain climbing, chicken healing, spider man requiring mission in full swing!  It took me all of 1 second to decide to ditch the workbooks in favour of this imaginative play game.  Why?  Am I being lazy?  Am I shirking my responsibilities to keep up their English language skills living in a foreign country?  No, I am letting them learn the best way possible, their own way. But as an added bonus, what mummy won’t take the opportunity of calm to get things done ;-).  One of the many reasons we uprooted the family to Sweden was to embrace and be part of their culture of letting children be children, and the importance they place on child’s play.

There was a great deal of planning involved in this game, which in itself is an important life skill to learn.  Outfits had to be chosen, and today it was necessary to be wearing football shin pads and ballet shoes.  Food and drink were required, so paper sausages and drinks bottles made from paper and old bottle tops.  Torches (push up ice cream bases), light sabres (toy screwdriver handles), rope (old string), and homemade telephones were all packed, and they headed off into the wilderness (our upstairs!).  The baddies were in our room, whilst the nursing and feeding of a poorly chicken took place in the spare room.  Extra superhero powers were required in the form of spider man.  For three hours this game was played, changed, and progressed, and the whole time they were busy learning some very important things.

So what has this session, like any other of imaginative play, been teaching them apart from planning?  It has taught them a variety of skills, the first one today being dressing themselves (not necessarily to my taste!!).  They have sorted their own outfits as were required, they have done their own undressing and dressing to accommodate the story line.  They have made hundreds of decisions throughout the morning, developing their decision making skills, but this has also had a big impact on increasing their social skills at the same time.  There has been A LOT of co-operation (trust me we are not the perfect family, they hit and kick each other out of frustration at times too and scream at each other, but today they learnt the benefit of staying calm and using words to communicate so the game was enjoyed…it was just a really good morning for them today).  There has also been sharing, negotiations that would be fit for running a country, taking turns, and a lot of self restraint from the pair of them.  Very often they can be quick to lose their self restraint, and it’s hard being a twin in each others pockets all the time, but when they can hold it, and see the benefits, it reinforces that it is a beneficial way to behave.  Imaginative play, by nature, is role play or acting out some sort of experience.  This is the way little people are able to make sense of the big bad world around them.

During imaginative play there is a lot of emotional development occurring, as it is a very safe place and time to express their feelings, and try and sort them out.  Their thoughts, feelings, wishes, and fears can all be processed through their play.  As was shown in today’s game, they can learn about empathy and caring too.  Their self esteem can increase because they can be ANYTHING they want to be, there is nothing holding them back, anything goes 🙂 I might have given the formal literacy a miss but they have been busy developing their communication skills, both verbally and non verbally.  During imaginative play they can experiment and mistakes don’t matter, but are there to still be learnt from.

So next time you feel guilty about leaving your little ones to play while you sneak a peaceful 5 minutes, or more realistically work through your “to do” list, DON’T!  They don’t need our grown up interaction all of the time.  Their own imaginative play without us is just as important to their development.  Sometimes, their games may require you as part of them, but be careful you leave all your grown up ideas at the door to the room…this is their game and it is played their way!

Imaginative play-Let them Play their way, play important, role play, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

Dear Bear and Beany

Healing Nature – Relying on the Beach to Work its Magic!

The past few days have seen a dramatic increase in the amount of squabbling, arguing, and whinging going on in our home.  We were in need of some emergency healing nature power!  I was getting close to the end of my tether with my trio.  I’d seen everything over the last few days.  We had death stares and grumbles from the little lady because someone dared to choose the same cereal to eat as her!  I’d seen breakdowns over someone wanting the same jam on their toast as someone else.  There had been fighting over who was taking what to lay the table.  Twin 1 had been hiding twin 2’s outdoor clothing during the mad morning dash to get out the house, resulting in a distraught, not ready twin 2.  Twin 1 had also been pushing twin 2 over into the door.  The list just goes on…..I was coming down stairs in the morning, and my first words for the past few days to my children had been cross and frustrated ones.  To say I was exasperated is an understatement!  So we packed the car and headed off for an afternoon of that well known remedy….healing nature.

Being surrounded by nature has so many benefits, and the main one I was in search of today was the gentle lapping sounds of the waves (hopefully I’d be able to hear them over the bickering!).  This sound instantly de-stresses me, lowers my heart rate, and I find my lost patience again.  Nature is a well known regulator of stress, so it’s a very valid reason to seek it out in times like this.  However, the benefits would not just be mine.  Nature play is known to resolve conflict and encourage team work….well, hello….if there was anything these three needed reminding of, it was that they liked each other, could enjoy each other, and play together!  They could also do with a little de-stressing too!  There are so many other benefits of nature play that I have written about already, http://mammasschool.co.uk/parenting/outdoor-play-children-natures-sanity/, but for today and our current situation, these were my main aims.

The children settled into their play fast, while I lit a fire and prepared some food, breathing a sigh of relief as I listened to their happy chatter.  All three worked in pairs at some point, in varying combinations.  Our little lady was engrossed in making a complex river and dam construction from redirecting the sea.  Lots of learning thrown in to her afternoon, while the boys mainly busied themselves building castles and moats, and using their dumper trucks to transport construction sand.  The food was well received in a opportunistic break from play, but they hurried back once it was scoffed down.  I sat back and watched them play, and enjoyed them in that moment, after a painful few days.  My plan had worked!

We headed back to the car after over three hours chilling on the beach, nature having worked its magic while we were all immersed in it.  As they clambered back in, the bickering started up again over the seat belts and who was in whose way!!  Well, all good things must come to an end I guess, but at least my patience fuel tanks were topped up again to deal with it all and we’d had a lovely few positive hours!!  However, I can see the wine tank in the fridge being a little more depleted later, and thank goodness we’ve just had Easter so the chocolate supply is high 😉

healing nature - relying on the beach to work its magic, restorative nature, nature play, outdoor play, benefits of nature www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

 

Country Kids

Taking a Blogging Break After a Year

I have now been blogging for just over a year, and posting 6 days out of 7 during this time.  I feel it is time for a little blogging break!  Not long, but just enough to recharge some batteries.  Just a little week off to enjoy my not so little family even more, and relax with them (well, as much as a Mamma can with three busy children!).

Our little lady has one week off school for Easter.  Don’t feel too sad for her though, as she is then only back for around 8 weeks before having nearly 10 weeks off for the summer.  There are quite a few, what the Swedish call “red days” in those 8 weeks too.  These are like bank holidays, except they aren’t necessarily on a Monday or a Friday.  She will finish the week before midsummer’s which is a huge celebration here, and then everyone spends summer relaxing and being on holiday 🙂  So, as you can see, one week at Easter, in the bigger picture, isn’t a great shame.  They get their priorities right, allowing the children to enjoy a very long, relaxing summer, when the weather is at its best!  I therefore thought, this might be a good time to take a little blogging break.


The time I have been blogging has been a time of great change and adjustment too for all of us.  First of all stopping conventional schooling in the UK (the reason for starting the blog), and then through an international move and settling into a new country.  I feel it is time to take stock, switch off, and relax for the one week my little lady is with us 24/7….let’s face it, she is still mainly with us during a school week too!
I will return the Monday after Easter, letting you all know how our Swedish Easter went, how we celebrated, and what we did (we have a few plans up our sleeves!!).  I have been busy sorting the children their Swedish Easter supplies out!!  Make sure you keep an eye on Mamma’s School Facebook page, Instagram, and Twitter as we will still be lurking there.  Otherwise I will see you after Easter, with lots of tales of what we have been up to!  Hope you all have a very Happy Easter, with lots of sunshine, chocolate eggs, and relaxing with your families xxxxx

Taking a blogging break, having a break, holiday, rest www.mammasschool.co.uk

Play Is Learning-Let Them Play!

“Play is the highest form of research.”

(Albert Einstein)

As parents, we are under pressure (both from ourselves and society) to ensure that our children do not miss out on anything, and succeed in everything.  Consequently, this has led to the normality of scheduling our children’s days, quite often, from the moment they wake, until the moment they collapse into bed.  The activity that loses out in all this way of living, is play.  Simple, free, and unstructured.  As parents, we like to know that our children are doing well, succeeding, and see progress.  It validates that we are doing a good job, our children are being given opportunities, and as parents we are being proactive and encouraging.  But what if we have got this all wrong, and have gotten swept away with the notion that this is what our children need?  What if I told you life could be a lot more simple, cheaper, and less stressful for everyone.  After all, those activities all cost money, parental time in taxi driving and support, and a lot of hurrying up in the process to get everywhere.  I’m going to go through the evidence now of why we should let them play, and more importantly, why play IS learning, and we should just trust the process more.

Children are not designed to be sitting still in confined spaces, and they often learn a lot better while they are moving.  As grown ups we need to think outside the box more, and view any play space as a learning potential space.  Play can happen anywhere, and so that means learning can happen everywhere.  One of the big things about play is that there are no rules to follow or curriculum, the child can just follow their interests.  Then there is much more motivation to carry on with the subject, and they are more receptive to the learning opportunities.  For the older ones, there are no negative associations with play.  It’s not school “work” or home “work”, so they are a lot happier.  If something is fun, a lot more is being absorbed and taken on board.

Art, craft, and creating is an especially positive form of play for children.  It has been shown to make their brains grow, and provide an environment for creativity and the expression of feelings.  However, this needs to be child led and unstructured.  Leave the supplies out and let them get on with it.  Letting the child lead in all types of play is the key to getting the best learning from the experience of play.  Children are always experimenting in their play as well, with various objects and solutions.  They measure, they pour, and they make various potions and solutions.  This is them naturally doing science as play, and it really does work.  I found my daughter once in the bathroom, surrounded by bubbles and her younger twin brothers, blowing different solutions through different shapes, having a blast learning what worked and what didn’t work.  Not only was she learning, but she was teaching too.

My trio love their Lego and their puzzles.  Once adults open their eyes a little more, we can understand that these toys are providing opportunity to learn about shape, size, order, and logic.  All really important skills.  We also encourage our trio to play games, such as happy families, with each other.  As well as the interaction with others they get from not using a screen, they are learning to take turns and share.

A lot of our play is in the great outdoors.  This environment not only increases strength, flexibility, and coordination, but it increases the use of imagination.  There are no toys with a predefined use in the middle of a forest.  A stick can be a sword, a broom, or a wand 🙂 Imagination is the key factor for play to be effective.  There are less boundaries, less rules, and a lot more freedom for them to explore in the outdoors.  It encourages the use of natural learning tools and resources to learn.

Play is learning let them play play www.mammasschool.co.ukSo, I am going to be a little more specific with what exactly they are learning now, just in case you are still sitting on the fence about the importance of play versus practising those spellings one more time.  Children are learning to problem solve and be more creative.  It gives them more enthusiasm and therefore more motivation to learn.  They have more curiosity stemming from a natural interest and ability to be able to follow their interests (not something grown ups have predetermined for them).  It can increase their confidence levels which are required to help them engage in new experiences.  They develop their concentration levels further.  Nothing can interrupt some imaginative play scenario that is going on between an Octonaut and a dinosaur!!  It reduces their stress levels – this one I want to just talk a little more about.  Due to their fight or flight pathways being activated in play (which is the same pathway that stress activates), they get exposed to stress (in a pleasant way), which then makes them less responsive to stress, and they are able to regulate it more effectively.  Just look at the amount of emotional disorders that are now present in people’s lives…….as children’s classroom/homework time has increased, along with more scheduled activities in their lives too, so has the amount of anxiety and depression disorders.

In conclusion, parents and schools need to give children more provision for play…not adult let, or guided play activities, but child led and unstructured  time.  We need to trust that this is better for them than more homework after a full day in the classroom.  We need to trust the learning.

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning, but for children play is serious learning.  Play is really the work of childhood.”

(Fred Rogers)

Play is learning-let them play, unstructured play, play is important, play www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

 

Outdoor Play For Children and Nature’s Sanity!

Outdoor play is slowly being realised for the prominent factor that it plays in child development.  However, there is still a long way to go in places, to rectify the damage that has been done in placing emphasis on conventional teaching and grades, at the expense of the children’s outdoor time.  Us grown ups are very slowly coming to the realisation that we could have caused a lot more harm than good, sacrificing playground time, in the pursuit of better performance and increased knowledge base.  I am here to run through the tip of the iceberg with regard to why play, and specifically outdoor play, is so important to children’s development.

First of all we need to look at the reasons why children’s outdoor play time has diminished so much.  It isn’t just down to schools being under pressure to perform better, and produce improved results.  There are other factors too.  Rightly or wrongly, there is the perceived threat of stranger danger.  A few generations ago children could explore for hours, even whole days, going quite far from their family home into areas, that as parents today, we wouldn’t let them go into alone.  I am thinking of places such as forests and woods.  Places that are natural playgrounds.  Parents are working more hours now, and in a lot of cases it is both parents, through necessity.  This leads to relying on other childcare options, instead of having a parent at home ready to supervise outdoor play.  Screens are a big thing in most households too. It’s the way technology and living has gone, but have we embraced their presence so much, that it’s now impinging on children actually wanting to get out into the great outdoors?  They can be a distraction to the more important job of play.  Then there are all the health and safety issues that surround other people (such as schools) that look after our children.  We have made them so fearful or litigation if one of our little people gets hurt, that there are now a huge amount of restrictions placed on outdoor play when it does happen.

Unfortunately, due the the factors mentioned, our children our facing a “nature deficit disorder”.  This is termed a disorder because they need nature and the outdoors to develop normally and healthily.  Play in the great outdoors supports development emotionally, intellectually, socially, and physically.  It’s not something to be lightly dismissed. So, how is outdoor play more enriching than indoor play?  Anything that can be done indoors, once taken into the great outdoors becomes more of an adventure, so naturally more fun to do, and ultimately they remember the experience more.  The outdoors inspires them and challenges them to be more creative.  With fewer rules, the children are freer to let their imaginations take over.  They can challenge themselves more as well…..who doesn’t find climbing a tree a little thrilling and challenging (after all every tree is different).  From this kind of play you then get all the advantages of taking risks (see a previous post on the advantages of children taking risks http://mammasschool.co.uk/parenting/take-a-risk-explore-inside-a-tree/ ), as well as creativity, learning to adapt to their environment, and to go at their own pace.  The great outdoors provides the perfectly balanced sensory environment that at the same time has a calming effect (on the grown ups too – I am often able to cope better and be more patient outdoors with a trio who are less frustrated with each other, as there is the space to escape a situation if required).  Outdoor play is also naturally more unstructured, and this in turn lends itself to more curiosity and exploration.

Exposure to outdoor play is vital for children’s health and development, and a lack of it can lead to increased emotional problems, increased health problems, and a lack of concentration.  Recently, general awareness of children needing be outdoors has started to increase.  However, it still needs a bit more of a push.  You may or may not be aware of https://outdoorclassroomday.com/.  They try and help give schools that extra impetus to get outdoors for the day and experience for themselves the theory in practice.  They describe it as

“Outdoor Classroom Day is a day to celebrate and inspire outdoor learning and play. On Thursday 18 May 2017, thousands of schools around the world will take lessons outside and prioritise playtime.”

So, if you are a teacher, use that day to try it out.  If you are a parent, make them aware of the date and offer support to help them provide this valuable resource for your child.  Visit their website for more details on the when, where, and why fores 🙂  The effort of getting the children outdoors might sometimes seem like a step too far if they put up resistance or if we as parents are tired, but the rewards once you are out there are limitless.  I urge you to go for it and experience for yourself what the outdoors can do for your children, and you as parents.  I don’t mean you need to climb Mt. Everest, what I do mean is children need an outdoor space to play in, and if possible, left to their own devices for a good chunk of time!

Outdoor play why children need outdoor play importance of outdoor play www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

Tiny Trolls Of Norway – There is No Such Thing As Bad Weather, Just Poor Clothing.

Tiny Trolls of Norway children's outdoor clothing www.mammasschool.co.ukTiny Trolls of Norway is a high quality children’s outdoor clothing company for ages 1-8 years.  The main aim of the business is to motivate and encourage families and their children out into the great outdoors. So, you can see similarities between my blog ethos and their’s already!  Our trio spend a huge amount of time in the great outdoors, and living in Sweden, this is pretty much in every kind of weather there is!  When Tiny Trolls of Norway contacted me and asked if my twins would like to put some of their clothing to the test, we felt we could certainly put it through its paces in our normal everyday life.  Not only is this the type of clothing we need for our lifestyle, this is the sort of clothing my double act need to turn up to förskola in to ensure they are dressed appropriately for that too.

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Take a Risk – Explore Inside a Tree

We have a special tree, that is affectionately called “our tree”.  It is about 5 minutes drive from our house, with great views over the fjords and of the setting sun.  You can climb up into this tree, and sit inside the middle.  The main branches going up from the trunk are hollow, allowing for crawling up inside and then out onto the sturdier peripheral branches.  There is a very large broken branch that goes at an angle from the mid section of the tree to the ground, which is fantastic for crawling up and testing your balance.  To clarify, this tree definitely fulfils one of the National Trust’s “50 things to do before you are 11 3/4; Explore inside a tree”, and certainly makes children take a risk (more about this topic later on in the post).

So, for this week’s adventure we headed off to explore inside a tree and to take a risk.  First though, we needed to have a little hike, have some food to eat, and then finish up at our tree to use the remaining energy up.  The fire pit I had in mind this week was on a little island.  When the tide is in, it’s quite hard to cross to and keep your feet dry (you need to go from the mainland, to a little island in the middle, then from that to the fire pit island).  We were lucky though, the tide was out, and the stepping stones (great adventure for the children) were raised well above the boggy squelchy mud.

Once onto our island with the fire pit, the children immediately set about testing their limits by climbing trees and running on the icy rocks (yes, it is still below zero here!).  This is something I’ve had to learn to embrace, as risk taking is very good for them and for their development (less good for Mamma’s heart rate and anxiety levels!).  I’ve had to learn to keep my mouth shut, and my “be careful” instincts to myself.  It is not until you actually say those words, that children doubt themselves, and once said and doubt is planted in their minds, then accidents are more likely to happen as confidence slips, thinking that there is something to worry about.  They are handling things perfectly fine until us grown ups interrupt!

Whilst they were all off exploring, discovering their limits, and doing a lot of risk taking, I set about getting the fire going for our tasty refuelling treat (and to warm my hands up).  The little lady hopped down from her tree to help me prepare the food supplies a little too.

I love our fires when we are out, and they serve as a bit of a focal area for the children to keep returning to, in between their exploring of the surrounding nature.  Reluctant to extinguish this one after our food, I put some more wood on, and sat back and enjoyed watching the trio play and discover.  I love being out with them as their best games are outside and without toys.  Our little lady spent ages excavating ice out of the sea, and stocking up the supply, to then systematically smash it.  Either dropping it from great heights to see how it flew apart, or breaking it up with a stick “to make music” as she put it.  They learn heaps in the outdoors using nature.

Then it was time to head over to our special tree.  For the next hour the children climbed up, through, and over, testing both theirs and the tree’s limits.  This is something that I am very passionate about, letting them test their limits.  I have been pushed more towards this style of parenting since having my twin boys (since they are risk addicts), but as I’ve gone through this learning process of letting them take risks, I have learnt that this is a much better way of parenting them.  We are (even if it is unintentionally) breeding a generation that will grow up unable to take a risk, and if they do take a risk, unable to manage that risk.  There are a few reasons for this.  There is a lot more screen time in our little people’s lives now, which consequently means less time outdoors climbing trees and swinging from home made swings.  We are more afraid of the presence of stranger danger, meaning our children don’t go out without us so much.  This alone has 2 impacts; they don’t get up to the antics of previous generations (so do not take a risk in their play) due to adult presence, and the adults in their lives need to be available to take them outdoors, which due to work pressures (and lets face it, needing a bit of our own down time), means they are indoors a lot more.  We are also a lot more sedentary about our lives in general too, and us adults don’t always set the best example about getting out there in the outdoors and nature.  Such reasons as ‘bad’ weather set the wrong example to the younger generation!

I have just finished the book by Angela Hanscom, “Balanced and Barefoot”, which has been a real eye opener.  In there she explains that if children don’t take a risk (and they needn’t be drastic), their development will suffer.  They need to practise assessing risk on their own, and this will in turn help them develop new essential skills.  She says; “Children are natural risk takers.  They need it.  They crave it”.  This is certainly true for our mini men, and becoming more true for our little lady.  Most of children’s risks are taken during unstructured play times, uncontrolled by grown ups.  Here they can learn to take those risks, as well as manage them and control them.  Very useful skills to have.  Angela Hanscom goes on in her book to explain how taking risks can increase their confidence and is of huge value to the child.  She explains how it “also helps children develop strong physical skills that support good body awareness”.  So, us grown ups need to listen to the message that she is putting across, and whilst it is scary for us parents to let them take those risks (and I really struggle to keep my mouth shut at times!), it is essential for them to be allowed to do so, and also given opportunity to do so.  I think the straw that broke the camel’s back regarding our decision to pull our daughter out of formal schooling in the UK, was, after a week of wet plays indoors (which I vehemently disagree with, but that is for another time), they had a really sunny autumn day at school.  When I asked her whether they had been allowed out that day at school, her response really shocked me:  “No Mamma.  All the leaves that have blown down in the storm made it too slippery for us to be outside”!!!!  We are protecting these children so much that it is going to have a huge detrimental impact on their lives.

So my three children, having had their dose of risk taking for the day, and thoroughly worn out, did not argue when I suggested that it might be time we headed home.  We love our tree, and I know we will be back many more times, and perhaps even get to paddle in those waters when they weather does eventually kick winter into touch, and warm up 🙂

Take a risk explore inside a tree climbing trees children need risk children climbing www.mammasschol.co.uk

 

Country Kids

Mud Play!

Throughout my blog posts, I have always emphasised how unstructured outdoor, and preferably muddy, play is best for children.  There are lots of benefits for the little people, both physically and mentally (I have other posts that have been published about this in more detail).  Mud play is one example of this is action.  My trio are constantly trying to dig holes everywhere, like little triplet moles.  To one side of garage there used to be a huge pile of chopped wood.  When we first moved in I moved all the wood into the cellar, for it to be kept dry.  This left the best patch of soggy bare mud ever.  Best for them, as it was large and could be dug and played with to their hearts’ content, best for me because my plants aren’t getting dug up, and also it can’t be seen 😉  After the recent large snow melt, this mud was now in tip top condition for an exceedingly muddy play!

I have given them old saucepans, and utensils too, which they keep outside.  They happily did mud play in their mud bath for a few hours and I was presented with hot chocolate and a side order of nuts from the little lady, and a blueberry pie from the mini men!  As the grown up and the laundry fairy, I inwardly cringe at the amount of mud that is getting everywhere, but I know I have to bite my tongue, as the benefits to my trio hugely outweigh any inconvenience to me 🙂

mud play nature play outdoor play www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

Balanced and Barefoot -The Importance of Unrestricted Outdoor Play.

I have just finished reading “Balanced and Barefoot” by Angela J Hanscom.  It is a book about “how unrestricted outdoor play makes for strong, confident, and capable children”.  I am a huge advocate of outdoor play for my trio (just in case you’ve never read the blog before).  Outdoor play in all weathers, at all times of the year, and in all locations.  So I was reading this book already believing in its message, but some of the facts and evidence thoroughly shocked me.  What we are doing (without realising it necessarily) to our children is not good at all 🙁

We all know that the combination of more parents working, less outdoor play at school (whether through curriculum pressure or as a sanction), the fear of stranger danger, and the introduction of more screen forms of play, are reducing the amount of time our little people spend in outdoor play mode.   However, it is not just about getting children outdoors and playing, it is about giving them the gift of unstructured outdoor play…no adult intervention, no adult scheduling, no adult rules, and no adult ideas 🙂  The outdoor play though invigorates them and makes them use all their senses.  They start to negotiate, do teamwork, overcome problems, and use creative thinking.  They learn to take risks and to manage risks.

There are a huge range of other benefits to outdoor play as well.  Our children’s posture is progressively getting worse, they fidget more, and they have a greater amount and range of emotional issues.  This book takes each problem and explains why it is happening, and then what we can do to help our children not needlessly go through these problems.  For example, I never knew that a child spinning in circles until it got so dizzy it fell over was so important for its development.  The physiological whys and wherefores though are written in the book in black and white.  Very plain for all to see that this, along with a lot of other play forms, need to be actively encouraged, and our adult sensible voices and priorities silenced.  The book also goes through the reasons why it is so important that this unstructured play takes place outside.  Unstructured indoor play is good, but there is no substitute when it comes to making sure children have opportunity for outdoor play every day.

I really recommend this book to read.  It is easy to read and written by a paediatric occupational therapist.  She explains in no uncertain terms (and very easily understood ones that are quite frightening to hear), why outdoor play is “vital for your child’s cognitive and physical development”.  The best bit is that she offers ways to help us go forward to rectify the mistakes us adults are making, that affect our children.

Balanced and Barefoot importance of unstructured outdoor play www.mammasschool.co.uk

We Are Going Out…….In Quite a While!

This is one of my new “Christmas” books.  “A Natural Sense of Wonder” by Rick Van Noy.  It’s been a fantastic and easy read, which is what I need right now, with the little trio’s lives consuming mine!!  I could really relate to it, and everything as a father he does, and goes through to get his children out of those bloomin’ doors to the outside world!  He’s quite funny and down to earth with how he writes too…..in my head my writing sounds just like his (hee hee!!!)  He’s made me feel more “normal” about what we are doing.  I never expected it to make me feel better about how I deal with our three or what we experience, I just got it as it was about connecting children to nature, something I am passionate about.  However, it has served a much appreciated second purpose too.  I am not alone when I think raising children can have its incredibly frustrating moments.  It doesn’t mean I don’t love them or want them around.  It just means it is a tough job.  I love his phrase “If you can’t beat them, they have to join you” referring to things he used to do pre-children…this is a bit like if I want a run….they have to come on various bikes and scooters so some sort of run can be achieved 🙂

My three love the outdoors and nature, we are all happier outdoors, there are less fights and arguments outdoors, and they soon get lost in wonder, amazement, discovery, and all the physical adventures to be had……so what is the issue?

The issue is in winter (today sits at -10), it takes a lot of clothing to be worn to be able to enjoy being outdoors….life is not good cold or wet!  There are three children to get all this claptrap onto.  Despite ample room to put on said claptrap, it invariably turns to fisticuffs about who’s in whose way, and who knocked over whose boots….oh the joys.  I thank my lucky stars that we’ve moved on from first of all catching, then wrestling 2 crazy twins into all their outdoor clothing, and they can do it themselves now!  Then on top of that we have a little home boy, who hates the idea that he might have to leave the house at some point in the day.  Mini man no.2 is known to say things like, “please can we never go outside again Mamma” or “I never want to go for another walk”!  He, perhaps more than the other 2, gets the most benefit from being outside.  He needs the physical challenges that are out there.  He needs to let off steam and frustration from being bossed around by his big sister and his more dominant twin.  He is a very sensitive and emotional little guy, and nature seems to just even him out a little, and put him in a happier place.

Like the father writes in his book, I try and give them warning to make sure they are prepared and there is no sudden extraction from whatever indoor activity they are engrossed in.  His and our experiences of getting out of the house follow along the same tracks, making what I experience with my three feel a lot more normal.  I love how he writes about the car seats and anger……who knew putting three children into a car, could cause quite a patient Mamma to want to throw the seats out and set fire to them!  We have to have a certain order of them getting in, as once one is in, it is so hard to plug the other two in!  The little lady has to sit in the middle to make the seats fit, and has to virtually squash mini man no.1 in his seat, leaning over, so I can find her seat belt plug which hides under her booster!  Then I can only get number three in by completely rotating his chair and then twisting him back…..and yes, after each child I invariably whack my head (so that’s three times) on the car roof.  This week has brought another issue too, while they race around procrastinating about leaping into the car, my fingers at -10 are getting to such a painful point, rendering them near useless on the doing seat belts up function!

Finally when we are all out, we are all happy, and we are all enjoying whatever the weather is throwing at us…..it was worth all the effort….right??!!!! For this…..most definitely!

I love this book, and I am so glad I got it 🙂

 

 

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