October 9, 2015

A Homeschool Essential- Wild Days

Years ago when my oldest two children young we lived in Denver in an apartment. A soon to be mom named Vera, just recently from Germany, moved into the apartment complex. I had taken years of German and felt to befriend her. After her baby was born she invited me to walk with her. Each day we would walk the parade grounds at Fort Logan, just across from the apartments where we lived. Vera would lift my toddler into her pram next to her baby, I put my preschooler in a wagon at first. It was not long before both of my boys were using the wagon and some days insisting that I ride in the wagon as they pulled, ha ha! Then the wagon was left behind as they would run up the path and back to me. Thus began our family tradition. I noticed that we rarely got sick anymore. I walked through the pregnancy of my first daughter. We soon moved into our first home and my friend moved to California.

My new home had green belts and walking paths near, as well as, a park a few blocks away. We were in the habit! Walks were so freeing of stress! So, I would put my baby in the stroller or in a front carrier and off we went. We would walk the few blocks down hill, across the green belt and up the hill to the park. My children climbed, they went down the slide, they balanced, the brachiated, I would push them on the swing, they would go up and down on the teeter totter… They got fresh air, sunshine, and exercise. So did I. Little did I know how much this was helping their development! It would be two decades before I discovered the research. I did t because it was fun and because we were healthier. Side note: this was great for my waistline too! We walked in every kind of season. In colder times we bundled up, walk and come home to a warm house. We experienced the change of seasons and the beauty of each season as it unfolded. I was grateful for Vera and how this one thing enriched our lives.

Each time we moved we found walking places! About 11 years after we began walking as a family, I discovered Charlotte Mason (CM). I joined a Charlotte Mason study group in 1994.Charlotte advocated nature walks, nature studies, nature notebooks,and ;what she called "picture painting (oral expository composition)." Nature notebooks are the perfect form of notebook learning!They can be a blend of penmanship, art, science, math, attention to detail, research and literature! When we moved to where we now live, we found walking places here, and we are also near the mouth of a lovely canyon. We loved walking in our neighborhood, as well as, in different areas of the canyon.Soon, I was asked to speak about nature walks, nature studies, and nature notebooks at a state homeschool conference.Then I was asked to write a series of articles on the same, for a national homeschooling journal. Then our CM group hostess compiled a study guide based on our group and included my articles in her book. A few years later, one of the ladies in the CM group and I decided to write a book, so we got together for lunch and brainstormed. I soon discovered that I was expecting, horribly sick, and would not be helping write the book. I encouraged her to write her own book without me. The book she produced is awesome- "Wild Days: Creating Discovery Journals," by Karen Rackliffe. I loved that she called it Wild Days! We all need them and I recommend them!

Wonderful as the physical health and educational benefits of these daily walks were, there was more! My walks to the park were also good for mental health and brain development. Once I had the strong impression to set aside my educational plans for the beginning of the fall and focus on daily walking up the canyon. It helped my children and more especially one that was struggling. Wild Days to the rescue! For me, I have discovered that these walks reduce my stress and made stressful situations easier to handle.

It is only recently that I understood the benefits of walking to the park and playing on the play ground equipment has on the brain. There are five pathways to the brain,; our senses. Walking and playing at the park builds brain balance, attention span, develop visual acuity, strength both fine motor and core body strength. This increases strength, endurance, and flexibility. These activities all help prepare children's minds and attention span for future academics.

Wild Days are not just an extra, not just recess, not just PE, Wild Days are an essential!

How have Wild Days benefited you?

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