Mamma's School

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Living Abroad-Reflections After Six Months in Sweden Part 4: Home is Where the Heart Is.

Living abroad in Sweden home is where the heart is www.mammasschool.co.ukLiving abroad in Sweden has given us a new home.  Our home is another thing that is really working for us.  Not only are we now the proud owners of a Swedish red wooden home, but it creates such a cosy atmosphere.  With the long and cold winters though, this is really important in Sweden.  Your home is your haven.  We have lots of windows to help get more light into the place, as well as light walls and light wooden flooring.  The whole of the living space is open plan, creating a more friendly atmosphere.  We also follow the typical Swedish living space habit of having lots of cosy lamps rather then harsh overhead lights.  Then there is our lovely wood burning stove.  A necessity here in case of power cuts in storms, but a centre piece for our family’s living.  The children have been known to just sit there and watch it, read books in front of it, and play games sat in front of it.  Our home really is warm, cosy, and inviting 🙂

So, you might ask, this living abroad has all been a bit one sided and too positive, there surely must be some downsides.  Well there are a few, but definitely not deal breakers!  You need to plan when you want an alcoholic tipple.  These are only sold in government run shops (called Systembolaget), in very few places, with limited opening hours.  But, on the other hand it is normal to bulk buy alcohol and store it 🙂 Our nearest Systembolaget is a 30 minute drive, so there’s none of this “I just fancy a bottle of wine tonight”!!  The language is another harder aspect of living abroad.  Dadda works in an English speaking office, with people from all over the world, so is not exposed to the language daily.  Our trio are now immersed in it during the week at school and pre-school, but they are still on a very steep learning curve.  It probably affects our little lady the most in trying to build friendships and communicate with others her age.  She has had quite a few friends back home after school, and has also been to someone else’s house, so whilst it frustrates her at times, she is making friends.

If this family adventure does end up being an expensive flop, at least there will be no “what ifs”, and so no regrets.  We have tried and given it a go.  The children will have experienced the world classroom, and a different culture, language, and lifestyle.  I think we have all adapted pretty well so far.  We seem to be integrating a little.  We have even had 2 visits now by close relatives, that whilst it was sad to say goodbye to them at the end of their trips, there were no tears and outrage from the children directed at their parents decision to move them to another country!  I can’t say enough though about how much we love living here, and I feel that maybe we have found our place in the world that we can call home 🙂








Living Abroad in Sweden Part 4 Making a home www.mammasschool.co.uk

Living Abroad-Reflections After Six Months in Sweden Part 3: Work & Snow!

Living abroad in Sweden work snow www.mammasschool.co.ukAfter a slight technical glitch this morning…here is part 3!!!  Living abroad here in Sweden, Dadda’s job has worked out very well too.  Back in the UK there is the practice of people not wanting to be seen leaving before anyone else (regardless of having done their hours), as it seems to be almost a competition of who can work the most (much to his unhappiness)!  Here, no one is staying beyond the end of their hours, and you’d be thought insane to do so!  This makes such a difference to one’s outlook on work, and puts it in its place, and family time first.  They also make sure fika is continued in the work place.  This is a Swedish concept, with no direct English translation, but generally translates taking a break with a coffee, a bun, and a chat.  They actively encourage you to step away from your desk and take a (paid) break.

Then there is the white stuff….lots and lots of white stuff!  Don’t get me wrong, you need to like the cold, the winter, the dark, and wearing warm hats and 2 pairs of trousers for 6 months of the year, and enjoy a good workout digging your car out.  However if you do, this is the place for you.  I was even told tonight, they hadn’t had a proper winter this year!!  Well, we have been very happy with lots of sledging, dozens of snowmen, and hundreds of snowballs thrown!  I can see though, if you are a sunshine, warm weather person, this is definitely not the place for you!  For us though, having four clearly defined seasons is amazing 🙂

Tomorrow I will conclude this little series on how we have found life since living abroad in Sweden.  I will be looking at how the home is the heart of our family, and how Swedish our home and living has become.  Plus I will be considering what happens if we find out it is not for us…….

Living Abroad in Sweden work and snow www.mammasschool.co.uk

Living Abroad – Reflections After Six Months in Sweden Part 2: School and Go Slowly.

living abroad in Sweden school slowing down www.mammasschool.co.ukYesterday I wrote about letting children be children, and a big part of that is their schooling.  This time last year we pulled the plug on formal, conventional schooling for our then 8 year old, as we were seeing her shrivel up before our eyes.  It was one the best parenting decisions we have ever made.  Over the next 6 months she grew and blossomed in a way that was so lovely to see.  Living abroad here in Sweden, everyone has to attend school.  It might sound harsh, but the reality is very different.  First of all, formal schooling does not start until 7 years of age, placing priority on play for the years up to then.  The Swedes recognise that a lot of important learning and developing comes naturally through a child’s play.  Then once they start school, they are only there for the morning (this includes a mid morning break, lunch, and a lunch break).  So, as you can see, still ample opportunity for children run, climb, and play both within the school day and afterwards.  Our now 9 year old little lady does not bring home homework every week either.  She may have some every couple of weeks, but even then it shouldn’t take half an hour (it can take us a little longer as we have to translate the Swedish!!).  There are no standardised tests until well into their teenage years, so the pressure is off these young, curious, wanting to learn minds, and learning is there to be enjoyed.  Having left a pressure cooker education system behind that has children exhausted, in tears, and feeling a failure, we are more than happy to embrace this positive approach to learning, and we mix it up by carrying on with our own home educating journey at home 🙂  School is important to us here as a place for her to meet others her age and learn the language, coming from an English speaking household, so it serves us well too.  She calls her teacher by her first name (that is just how it is done here), and there is mutual respect between adults and children.  It’s such a lovely environment….oh apart from the no shoes indoors policy….I have to keep a better eye out for the holes in the socks situation!  But on the flip side she loves running and sliding down the corridors!  The lovely island school has turned out to be what we wanted for our trio, and more.  We never asked for them to give her any special resources/attention, but to help her progress in Swedish she gets some lessons when the others have English or maths (she’s been doing maths formally for 3 years longer than her classmates).  She has Swedish language workbooks too.  School has worked very well here so far, even despite her language barrier.  This week she’s brought home her first written Swedish work, about space, for us to look at, and even their workbooks are much more attention grabbing for them!  The mini men are at förskola, even though there is no requirement for them to attend.  They go three mornings a week (a total of 15 hours) to be immersed in the language and meet little people their own age.  They love it and have a lot of fun there.  They are outdoors a lot, and the environment really suits them.

With three children, life can easily start feeling like a hectic race from the moment you get out of bed, until the moment you collapse into it at the end of the day.  A huge reason for moving here was to slow right down, and commit to a much simpler way of living.  It just seems a lot easier to do here.  We have moved to a small island community (small communities are the norm), you can’t just pop to the shops to spend frivolously (the nearest are about a 30 minute drive, again not unusual), and there are no other material distraction, so life is lived at a more leisurely pace.  We’re no longer sucked into things like a weekend chocca full of children’s parties, activities, or shopping.  Instead it is full of family time, hiking, exploring, and lots of play!  We’ve even streamlined to one car (the bus route to Dadda’s work is very good and he enjoys chilling on the bus).  Even though we live in a remote area, public transport is much better than in the UK (even if the driving is a bit more haphazard!).  So we don’t need 2 cars.  We can get fresh fish by cycling down to our island harbour and buying whatever the catch is.  The post doesn’t come at all at the weekend.  No one rushes anything here.  At first, trying to sort out all our immigration paperwork etc, it was mildly frustrating but we have learnt to roll with it better now.  Even the bills only come after you’ve had something a while.  Everyone just accepts that everything will happen in the end.  The trust between people is huge too.  You can leave your bike unlocked or your house open, and the worst that will happen is you’ll find a friend sat waiting for you to come home for a chat.  As a British person this takes some getting used to, and I am not sure we’d ever get to the point where we’d leave the house unlocked, but it’s comforting to know that this is the kind of place we live.  As well as life being simple, it is less rushed and hectic.  This is a very large country with a smaller population than the UK.  The roads are not busy, speed limits are lower, the shops shut early on a Saturday for people to be with family and friends at the weekend.  I understand this would not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for us and how we want to raise our family, it is perfect.

Tomorrow I will be letting you know about how work is going for Dadda, and how we have found living with the white stuff!

 

Living Abroad – Reflections After Six Months In Sweden Part 1: Outdoors & Children.


It is now nearing 6 months that we have been living abroad in Sweden.  I felt that it was about time I reflected back on the move and the reasons behind them, and whether our dreams have become a reality.  I’m going to reflect back in four parts, so sit back and enjoy the update over the next few days!  It is quite a good point to be reflecting back on the move and the decision to be living abroad, as in a few short weeks we will be returning to the UK.  We will have a brief stay visiting friends and family, and then we will return back to our newly adopted place that we now call our home, in Sweden.

Since long before we had children, Dadda and I have always had the dream of living abroad in Scandinavia.  We had many reasons for wanting to do this, reasons that became more important after we had our children.  Suddenly our lives affected them, as did our choices, and for us, our dreams were to bring our children up with the experience of everything Scandinavia can offer them both in terms of ethos of living, and experiencing this wonderful part of the world.  Luckily for us, in the Summer of 2016, an opportunity finally came our way, and a move to Sweden was in the making….all I can say is never give up on your dreams as it took a lot of years, and a lot of goes to get here!

Dadda had left 7 weeks ahead of us four, as we needed to find somewhere to live, pack up our UK house, and then ship everything over.  Those 7 weeks were hard, not just because I was home educating, packing up a house, and trying to keep some sort of normal routine going for the children on my own, but also because at times it felt like we would just never make it over there.  House buying here in Sweden takes the form of a very difficult bidding process, and there were often so many people bidding for one property.  It was the one thing that was stopping us living the dream together (rentals aren’t really an option here like in the UK).  Dadda was over in Sweden, but we were stuck in the UK, with no sign of progress on buying a home.  Finally we got lucky, and found a gorgeous home.  So, early one morning, with four massively overweight suitcases, three car seats, four hand luggage bags, and three children, I herded us to Gatwick, and onto the flight that would start the next chapter of our lives.  So, why did we do it, and has it lived up to our expectations so far?

The great outdoors and the Swedish ethos of outdoor living was a huge attraction for us and for living abroad and moving to Sweden.  Don’t get me wrong, we did live in a beautiful part of the UK, but over here it is all much more natural, wild, and rugged.  Being a larger country, with fewer people in, the natural spaces and wildlife are left well alone and thrive without such a heavy presence of mankind.  There is wildlife and space all around you.  You know that while you are sleeping, the local älg (moose) are checking out the golf course up the road, or the deer are stealing the carrots from your children’s snowmen in the garden!  The public right of access allows everyone to roam freely, as long as they respect the land and nature.  Most of the population lives very close to a nature reserve or conservation area (we have four within a 5 minute drive in various directions!), and the Swedes have sussed that spending time in natural spaces reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, and helps improve mental health.  They also learn to appreciate nature from a very early age.  The more time you spend in nature, the more time you will want to care about it 🙂  We have definitely adopted the Swedish approach of “There is no bad weather, just bad clothing”, and we have enjoyed exploring the local countryside around us.  We have got to grips with outdoor fires, and have started to enjoy using the regularly placed outdoor fire pits on our hikes.  The beautiful landscapes, the freedom to roam where we want to adventure, and the provision of fire pits in the wild, have definitely fulfilled this reason for moving here.  I think it is fair to say we have been taking full advantage of it all so far!

Let children be children!!  That was another reason for moving and living abroad.  When we had no.1, we thought we’d got parenting pretty well sussed out.  She was as good as gold, did what she was told, and wasn’t overly noisy.  That was until the hand grenade landed that is non identical twin boys!  They are a totally different story (but just as lovable!).  They were physical beings from very early on.  They can’t walk anywhere, they have to run. They NEED to climb on and up everything. They are extremely noisy in their play, and they move very very fast!  I rapidly learnt that I needed to change my parenting style with these 2, and it was probably no bad thing, as I was a little conventional.  I needed to let them run, climb, and explore, and have the courage to do this.  In the UK, this got me a lot of frowns (especially in parks) when I deliberately made a choice not to helicopter parent any of them, as well as letting them use apparatus how they wanted to (provided no one else was affected!).  Plus in the UK there are a lot of expectations of how children should behave, often making them suppress a lot of their childhood instinctive behaviours, and in turn dampen down their spirit, curiosity, and excitement about life.  Out here it is a lot different.  Children are expected to want to make a noise, run around, and climb.  It’s quite common for my little lady to climb the trees in her playground , whereas in the UK it was a definite no no.  They are outdoors in all weathers, not couped up because of some wind and rain.  The Swedes have clocked onto the fact that children don’t want to, and won’t sit still like statues, but instead they expect them to be moving.  The best bit….no one’s looking at your parenting skills or your child and seeming to be criticising them, as children are just being children.  The children have a lot of “down time” too.  School finishes at lunchtime (having had 2 big play times as well), and there is no real parental expectation of children to do clubs.  Our little lady has started sea scouts and loves it, and now does just one dance class.  The boys let off steam every other weekend at a gymnastics class.  This makes everyone happy.  The children get a lot of play time and the chance to just be, as well as a little bit of socialising, and I’m not a mum taxi!  Although back in the UK it is definitely your own choice whether children do activities or not, there is the fear of them missing out that makes a lot of us seek these activities out.  We worry that our child will be at a disadvantage if we don’t get them involved in things.  That is not the case here.  So, 6 months on, our children are definitely being just that, children. And I would say thoroughly enjoying the time, the freedom, and ability to follow their natural curiosity!

Tomorrow I will be looking at schooling and slowing down the pace of life, and I hope you will join me to see how things are different, living abroad here in Sweden.


Living Abroad in Sweden outdoor life children being children www.mammasschool.co.ukLiving Abroad - Reflections after six months in Sweden Part 1:  Outdoors and Children www,mammasschool.co.uk

 



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

Fire Cones – A Tasty Fire Pit Treat.

outdoor cooking fire cones tasty treat campfire cooking www.mammasschool.co.ukThese delicious fire cones are so simple to make, or rather, get your children to make!!  However, our fire cones didn’t go quite to plan for us, as I’d left the tin foil at home!!  We did do them without the tin foil, but it is not something I would recommend.

 

 

 

So, what do you need to make fire cones?  Tin foil!!!!  Plus:

Ice cream cones

Fruit (we used bananas.  I’d like to have added strawberries too, but they are not in the shops)

Chocolate chunks or drops

Marshmallows

Slice the fruit up first.  Then with everything else, stuff as much as you can into the ice cream cone (or your mouth as twin 1 is showing very effectively in this photo).  Then wrap them up in tin foil and place them on the fire.  The inside should melt to a pleasant sweet goo, while the outside is protected by the foil.  Ours were placed directly on the fire grill, so were a little charred.  Still edible though!  After a few minutes, unwrap, place in a bowl, tuck in and enjoy your fire cones 🙂

 

Nature Curriculum Week 25 – Snails.

Snails nature learning www.mammasschool.co.ukThe month of March in the Nature Curriculum, is a difficult one for us.  Everything is still very much still asleep here in Sweden.  The temperatures are still below freezing, and snow is still falling from the sky.  There are signs that spring is on its way with more daylight hours, and a lot more birdsong, but it takes a lot longer to get going here!  So, I juggled the weeks around, choosing to do snails this week, as I thought we could find some.  Well, I was very wrong!!  I have done a lot of research for extension activities (see my pinterest page https://uk.pinterest.com/mammasschool/nature-curriculum-snails/ ) but we couldn’t do a lot of them without an actual snail!!  So, we have done the theory and a little bit of craft (blog post to come), and we have tried our best!  Luckily all three children remember snail races and other activities we did late last spring back in the UK, so all is not lost!

For our nature journals we sketched a picture from an image on the computer, in the absence of a real model!  We looked at a snail’s anatomy, their habitat, and their diet.  We learnt about how they move and travel, and the best fact was that they had little tongue like organs covered in tiny razor teeth like things to grind their food up!  The children learnt they have no backbone (invertebrates), and belong to the phylum mollusc. They learnt that the large foot the snail has, places them into the gastropod class.  The trio also had a printed off snail diagram to label (the twins and I did it together due to the lack of reading skills, but they enjoyed the process of labelling).

This week’s fiction book is “The Adventurous Snail” by Dick King Smith.  We are enjoying the tale still as it is a longer story and needs to be read in a few sittings.  We also dug out Julia Donaldson’s “The Snail and the Whale” which is a firm favourite for all three of the children.  The poem this week was “Snail” by Langston Hughes.

We have still learnt quite a bit about snails, but we were unfortunately unable to do any practical work with them.  We’ve still had fun though with what we have done 🙂

 

 

The Nature Curriculum we use is, “Exploring Nature with Children. A complete, year-long curriculum”. It is a beautifully written framework, written by Raising Little Shoots, and can be found over at https://raisinglittleshoots.com/ It suggests a topic for the week, and then provides some background information and suggestions for nature journaling and outdoor exploring. It also provides a comprehensive suggested reading list (fiction and non-fiction) for each week, plus a poem and a piece of art to study. There are extensions activity ideas too. We use the topic as the theme for our week, and follow the ideas for our journaling, and one fiction book. What we have been doing from the curriculum can be found on our curriculum overview post. The craft, science, maths, and English ideas we have researched ourselves to fit in with the theme 🙂 This makes a learning a lot more nature based.

Living Abroad-Reflections After Six Months in Sweden Part 3: Work & Snow!

Living abroad in Sweden work snow www.mammasschool.co.ukLiving abroad here in Sweden, Dadda’s job has worked out very well too.  Back in the UK there is the practice of people not wanting to be seen leaving before anyone else (regardless of having done their hours), as it seems to be almost a competition of who can work the most (much to his unhappiness)!  Here, no one is staying beyond the end of their hours, and you’d be thought insane to do so!  This makes such a difference to one’s outlook on work, and puts it in its place, and family time first.  They also make sure fika is continued in the work place.  This is a Swedish concept, with no direct English translation, but generally translates taking a break with a coffee, a bun, and a chat.  They actively encourage you to step away from your desk and take a (paid) break.

Then there is the white stuff….lots and lots of white stuff!  Don’t get me wrong, you need to like the cold, the winter, the dark, and wearing warm hats and 2 pairs of trousers for 6 months of the year, and enjoy a good workout digging your car out.  However if you do, this is the place for you.  I was even told tonight, they hadn’t had a proper winter this year!!  Well, we have been very happy with lots of sledging, dozens of snowmen, and hundreds of snowballs thrown!  I can see though, if you are a sunshine, warm weather person, this is definitely not the place for you!  For us though, having four clearly defined seasons is amazing 🙂

Tomorrow I will conclude this little series on how we have found life since living abroad in Sweden.  I will be looking at how the home is the heart of our family, and how Swedish our home and living has become.  Plus I will be considering what happens if we find out it is not for us…….

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

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