Thursday, July 23, 2015


I want to build on one of the ideas I mentioned in the last post, KIDS OUTDOORS IN THE WINTER, of mums grabbing moments with the kids “to train the (child’s) seeing eye, the hearing ear.”
1.  Send the children off as a group to explore something
    - The rocks at the end of the beach
    - A garden
    - A small hill
    - The hedge
    - A little stream
    - A group of trees
   All you need to say is – Who can see the most, Who can tell the
   most about the rocks at the end of the beach…
   2.   Although not intentionally, to children this is like a
   competition. They race off to get there first. After a short time
   they’re back again, yabbering and breathlessly trying to say what
   they saw. The comments start with excited short phrases and jump
   all over the place, as their minds settle. Then sentences become
   longer with more detail.
3.   The child who has tried hard to describe something, such as a
   tree, deserves to know the name of that tree or any special
   information you know about the tree. Take this perfect learning
   moment, while the child is already curious about the tree.
   4.  The child who returns with nothing much to say or a lazy, clumsy
   description, needs no such extra information from you. Let them
   flounder along until they themselves choose to race back to look
   again and return with a more accurate description to tell you.
5.      You can finish the game by getting the children to take you and
   show you what they described.
   Children love to do this, as long as we listen while they tell. 
   Mum is interested, mum came with me, mum listened to me…
   This is a great simple family experience, playing The Exploration
   Game, but it may not happen like this the first time, so keep
   trying it. It is hard if you have only 1 child – you could borrow
   some other children or combine with another family to play.
   Here are 3 outcomes that come from this style of ‘training’ in
   # They develop mature skills of observation generally ~
   “By degrees the children will learn discriminatingly every feature
   of the landscape with which they are familiar.” p.47 Home
   Education: Charlotte Mason.
   Everything in the natural world is constantly changing, nothing
   stays as it was last week. Things grow, die, are moved by wind and
   rain and disappear. The unlimited scope of material outdoors,
   provides children with a huge range of experiences connections,
   interests and information gathering. Through simply looking on a
   regular basis, children store up a large amount of rich knowledge,
   ready for use throughout life.
   # The habit of truthful observation is learnt ~
   Mum “is training her children in truthful habits, by making them
   careful to see the fact and to state it exactly, without omission
   or exaggeration.” p.47 Home Education: Charlotte Mason.
   The Exploration Game challenges children to look quickly, look
   honestly and be discerning. Because they have siblings or other
   game-players who may also look and tell about the same thing, and
   because it is MUM (that font of all knowledge) who will hear all
   the comments, there is an obligation to be truthful and accurate.
   Developing such traits shapes the growing character of children.
   # The increase of vocabulary, conversation and skills to express
   their ideas ~
   “This is all play to children, but the mother is doing invaluable
   work; she is training their powers of observation and expression,
   increasing their vocabulary and their range of ideas by giving them
   the name and uses of an object at the right moment.” p.47 Home 
   Education: Charlotte Mason.
   The need to speak and tell in The Exploration Game, means children
   practice using the words they know while learning new ones. This
   adds to their overall success to communicate the ideas in their
   mind as they practice describing what they see.
   THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ play The Exploration Game.
   More on this next post.

Thursday, July 9, 2015


The winter school holidays are here. After months of rain and another cold snap over New Zealand, it seems ridiculous to even think about the kids playing outside for very long. But there are many sensible reasons to send or take the children outside to play in winter. Here are a few ~
 # lowers the level of friction between siblings
 # burns up excess energy
 # prevents them from being dominated by ‘unhealthy’ technology preoccupations
 # returns them home tired and ready to be calm and sleep well
 # provides them with opportunities to discover new things
 # satisfies their curiosity to explore
 # develops their thinking and decision making faculties
 # improves their physical fitness
 # possibly helps towards keeping them out of the high percentage of obese children in our country
The beach
The lake
Private or public gardens
The waterfront
A pond
The sky…
For outside time with the kids to be a success and not result in  kids being bored or mum being taxed, there needs to be a plan.
1.  On arrival let the kids roar off, be noisy, let off steam… Leave children to themselves and take in what they want. This needs to be a large part of outside time, where children organize what they want to do. [If you freak-out at this suggestion because you don’t have confidence that your child could be trusted doing this, then feel free to contact me via my website – I would love to help.]
2.  Some moments can be grabbed by mum “to train the (child’s) seeing eye, the hearing ear…”, using what is right there at the location. Facts, simply given for them to think on, can “germinate, blossom, and bear fruit, without further help or knowledge” from mum. This is like giving the child a special tidbit of information – ‘it’s the moon that causes the waves to keep rolling into the beach.’
3.  There is a lot of benefit for children to be on their own - sitting on a rock, nestling into long grass, resting in a tree branch, to ponder, watch, look, or follow what is happening around them. Give them private thinking time.
4.  Then physical activity such as running, climbing, jumping, hopping, skipping, rolling, frog jumping, include a ball or Frisbee…. You can give a suggestion or initiate the action. It can be a group thing or individual.
5.  Finally, always finish with drinks and food.
The point of being outside can be lost or compromised if ~
1.  Mum thinks she needs to or tries to entertain the children.
2.  Mum dominates by talking, explaining, or directing children in what to do. Just think, if you took your child to a circus or performance, would you talk over the acts, directing the children how to think about what they were seeing? So when outside let them think their own thoughts.

THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ make a plan, plan to go outside and spend time enjoying nature and each other.
More ideas on this subject to come next time.