Saturday, January 12, 2013

Letting Kids Lead the Way and Lead the Play

For the past two weeks, I've tried to take the boys to the swings at Second Beach.  In order to get there, we have to walk through about 15-20 minutes of beautiful park.  When they were smaller I'd put them in the stroller, rush to the park, and we'd spend time on the swings and equipment.  Now that they are older and are able to walk to and from the park on their own, it's a bit of a different story. 

There are two ways I could approach this:

1.  I could constantly nag the kids to keep walking, to hurry up, and reminding them that we are on the way to the swings and we can stop and have fun when we get there


2.  I could let the kids stop and enjoy themselves as they please, because really, there's no real urgency to arrive at the playground at any specific time, or even at all.

I have tried method one and it sort of stinks.  Everyone is rushing and being pressured, and for what? So they can have fun... which is what they are doing when they stop along the way anyhow? 

Method 2 is much easier, and much more pleasant. 

Today we decided to try walking along the seawall from English Bay.  We barely left English Bay, found two giant piles of leaves and a small hill, and stayed there for about 2 hours.

Charging up the hill
Collecting leaves to take home (good grief)
A huge stack!

When they realized a pile of leaves is like jumping on a foam mat in the gym...

Breaking for a snack


For a while they thought it would be fun to transfer all the leaves from one giant pile, into another giant pile.

It was interesting to watch their play evolve completely unguided by me;

first they were interested in just touching the leaves,
which developed into moving and transferring the leaves,
which developed into jumping in the leaves,
which developed into rolling in the leaves,
which developed into rolling down the hill in the leaves.

Basically, it ended up being a session of rolling down the hill in the leaves.

Tourists were stopping to watch, and a few students even wanted pictures with the kids.  It was really quite funny. I had many comments from parents saying it was nice to see kids "just being kids" for a change, and only one comment from a naysayer saying the kids were getting "filthy and cold" for no reason, but she had been walking around with a four year old in a clean and fancy party dress, so I bet that was just to deter her own kid from doing the same. 

In the end, the kids were happy and had burned off a ton of energy.  We never made it to the swings, but there's plenty of time for that.

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