On our recent walk to coffee and cookie, which is a date with my son, I was in awe of the learning that he explored on a simple walk. We take this path on a very regular basis, either for our date or for just a walk in the neighbourhood. Joshua loves to walk, and we use walks as apart of of his sensory diet to help stay regulated, but what happened on this particular walk is extremely worth sharing.
He simply states, "I want to wear my backpack." And I can't help but wonder if that weight on his back opened up the learn opportunities that I am about to tell you about.
On our walk to the coffee and cookie store, the name according to Joshua, he discovered a very large tree branch on the ground. He was very intrigued by it and you could tell he was curious as to how it got there. I said, "I wonder how it got there?" He recalled a storm from just a night ago and said amongst his gibberish, his own little language, I could hear, storm, wind and fall down.
Connecting previous events to his current observations is a new development in his cognitive skills. He also noted how the trees were green just like his name, Joshua Green! He observed how green the trees were and brushed his hand against the bushes as we continued on our walk.
He walked all around the tree using his tools to fix the tree, and the neighbours that passed by he eagerly shared what had happened to the tree. One neighbour said, "You are a tree doctor!" Joshua loved this and was very excited to be a doctor, as this is new in his play as well. He said to the neighbours as they left, "Bye, have a good day!" These social interactions provide him with confidence and the opportunity to use the language he does have in a more controlled environment, as adults interactions are more predictable than children for him. Adults tend to take the time to listen more closely when they hear the gibberish that he uses, and the words inserted amongst those sentences to share his story.
Then he crawled onto of the branch and it turned into a race car, and Momma had to climb in as well. We drove to Nana and Papa's house in our race car! He used his imagination and creativity to change the play and inviting me into it. More cognitive and social development! Language development by sharing his ideas and communicating with me.
We as adults like to explore many new environments, but for children repetition is key to making new discoveries from the knowledge they already have.
He slowed down his movements and quietly talked to the baby bird. He also noticed an ant carrying a large piece of a leaf and thought it was very funny. As we left Joshua stopped me and said, "Wait, we need to hug and kiss the bird!" This is part of his ritual for saying goodbye to people that he cares about. So I said we can blow a kiss to the bird. Joshua showed empathy, kindness and compassion to the baby bird. Emotional development is not typically something you can preplan an activity around, it is best to explore and nurture natural experiences in children's everyday lives. Joshua learnt more emotional skills in this interaction than I have accomplished in trying to get him to recognize my feelings during arguments.
What I hope you take from this story is that learning can happen anywhere and children learn and develop the different domains simultaneously, deeply connected and intertwined with the next. How one single tree branch can provoke inquiry, social, language, emotional, sensory, and physical development. Learning that happens naturally and intrinsically. Our role is to recognize these magical opportunities and nurture it.
I am an Early Childhood Consultant and very passionate about supporting and inspiring my fellow Educators. I will share my reflections and experiences about implementing my philosophy, views, and ideas into my practice.