Monday, November 30, 2009

Outdoor Time

One of the foundations of a Charlotte Mason-style homeschool education - which is a curriculum that seems to jive with a lot of what I love about learning at home in the first place - is that children, especially very young children (under 6) should spend a LOT, if not most, of their time outdoors.  By a LOT, Charlotte Mason and those who follow her philosophies mean up to SIX hours a day.
 
That is very hard for me.  Even an hour is very hard for me.
 
Until we moved to this house and I started gardening, I couldn't stand being outside for extended periods of time at all.  Given a choice between a building with sealed windows and climate control and the great outdoors with all its variables... well, indoors would win out every single time.  Memories of shovelling snow, raking leaves, mowing lawns and other mucky type activities as a child were just too horrific, and I figured I was sparing my children this grief by living in an apartment.  The older kids had probably never touched a snow shovel (maybe never seen one!)until we moved here, four years ago this month.
 
One of the first things I did, the week that we took possession of the house, was rake the leaves.  It felt very much like an authentic act of kinyan (the formal transfer of property according to Jewish law).  But then I did very little, because it was winter already, until spring came and I discovered the sandy expanse that was the backyard.  I wish I'd taken pictures.
 
Anyway, even before I started reading in-depth about Charlotte Mason last week, I came to the conclusion that I take my children out WAY too little.
 
I have always seen fall as a route, a descent into bleak wintry coldness, rather than a destination in itself.  Lots of people love fall for itself, for the leaves and the chill in the air and the back to school and holidays and whatever.  I never have.  I see spring that way!  Spring is such a terrific destination, it's crushing when summer finally arrives.  But fall... well... it's just the demise of everything that was born in the spring.
 
So I have to fix this attitude, I decided.  And I really have made an effort, the last couple of weeks, to get the kids out of the house a little more often.
 
But now, being December, I fear it may be too late to really savour fall before it crashes and burns and falls apart into snow and slush and blah.  Still, winter is a destination, too.  I have never really played outside with kids in the winter.
 
And things will probably get easier as the kids get older, need less help getting jackets and hats on, and need less supervision in the great outdoors. 
We may never make it to six hours (that's a LOT!), but even a little is a start... right?

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