I was surprised to realize one doesn’t need to travel far to find objects or scenes of interest and intrigue. I picked 12 of my favorite images from 2016. Surprisingly, half of my favorites were taken within yards of my house, others from just a few miles away.
How did I pick these twelve shots? I quickly went through my images and labeled ones that were favorites. I then selected ones that created an emotion, feeling or memory for me. Not just another record shot. I then sorted the 80+ images into sets: black and white, food, landscapes, macro’s, people, animals, insects, artistry shots and such. I then narrowed it down to one or two from each category.
I’m certainly learning what interests me and along the way I’m surprised that my passion in photography turned out to NOT be just macro’s of flowers. It will be interesting to see what 2017 brings as I acquired my new iPhone and DXO camera attachment towards the 2nd half of 2016. I’m just beginning to learn the new phone and camera features. I hope 2017 allows me the time to take more photos and to explore new ways to see life.
The importance of play is being lost. At our fundamental core we seem to know that children need to play but more and more we are cramming parent/teacher driven structured lessons onto our youngest children all day long. We have forgotten that children learn through unstructured free play, not just parent or coach driven activities. What’s even sadder is that adults have forgotten the importance of play in their adult lives. We all need play.
As an Early Childhood Educator, through years of observation, it became obvious to me that a vast amount of learning occurs through play and repetition at the earliest of ages. There have been numerous studies and scientific papers detailing the early cognitive development in infants and young children in support of the need and power of free play. The role of a good ECE teacher is to mediate, guide and support play. This is done by providing guidance, direction and materials to facilitate play, taking play to new levels of discovery, to guide and nurture social and emotional development.
I could get into a long posting about the detriments of technology, social media and television but that isn’t what I’m thinking about today. I’m thinking about what is often closest to my heart, the need for all people, no matter what age, to spend time in nature, time at play.(Bonus link if you make it to the end of this post). Combine the two and you have the perfect formula to guide our spirits to a place of balance.
Give me a group of children in a structured classroom setting and after a short period of time I bet I’d be able to identify which children have had nature in their lives and been allowed to play freely. They will be calmer, more observant, kinder, more compassionate with other students and more respectful of both objects and others.
Heck, if you see an upset, angry, anxious, emotional, frustrated or stressed adult, recognize that they are probably dealing with more issues then anyone should possibly be handling. Get them into nature, out to play and watch the stress start to leave their body and mind as they relearn to “let go” and to reassess the issues they are dealing with in their lives and to reconnect to what is truly important for our time on this earth.
By losing play and time in nature not only do I think we are seeing the effects in the increases of behavior issues in young children, but I believe behaviorists and researchers have successfully documented this occurrence.
In adults we are seeing increased levels of anxiety and depression. It is just as important for adults to play. To spend time in nature. To step away from technology and the 24×7 connection. We can’t forget to let go and just be present in the moment. If you are interested in learning more about the importance of play for adults and what constitutes adult play, search the topic at TEDxTalks (https://www.ted.com/watch/tedx-talks)
It is so magical to witness the innocents of a child discovering and exploring on their own. There is no better way to learn then to see them self teach through experience. In my last post, Parenting Philosophy, I shared a favorite quote from The Training of the Human Plant by Luther Burbank. It’s worth reading again.
Children and adults that have learned through play and continue to play are more creative, better problem solvers and happier.
Many years ago I attended a training seminar for ECE teachers. One of the sections I attended was lead by Diane Gordon a local bay area advocate for children and adults in nature.(http://www.childrennatureandyou.org)
She left us with this recommendation on what to teach a child to prepare them for formal schooling.
When I was a young kindergarten teacher, prospective parents would ask me what they could do to prepare their children for kindergarten, expecting I would give them a list of reading and math exercises. As I look back now, I can see that my responses were vague and far from satisfactory. Now, these many years later, I would say something like this:
They will need to know their colors – the blue of the sky, the green of the grass, the colors of the rainbow. And numbers. Count with them: the squirrels in the park, the petals on a flower, how many acorns can be held in one hand. In two hands.
Share with them the wonder and the beauty of the world around them – the sliver of the moon that grows night by night until it is full and round. The snail that travels with his house on his back, and leaves a silvery trail wherever he goes. Or the spider who spins beautiful, intricate patterns overnight.
Encourage them to be creative and different. Walk in the mud together with bare feet. Howl at the moon like wolves. Wriggle or slide through the grass like worms or snails.
Teach them tenderness as they gently stroke a kitten, or pick up a worm after the rain, and replace it carefully in the soil. Encourage their sense of responsibility as you plant seeds together and tend them regularly.
Teach them to read – to read the weather and tell if it will be windy or rainy today. Or to read the world around them – the changing colors of the leaves, the many kinds of seeds, the many colors of flowers.
Introduce them to the magic of stories, both listening to them and telling them. Let their imagination soar. Do this, and I can teach them to read!
If you’ve made it this far, here is a bonus video of the authors adult daughter and husband in a state of bliss, laughter, free spirit, joy and happiness which all equals PLAY and being BALANCED.
Click link to view my 10 second Youtube video of pure laughter and joy: Adult’s at play
Followed by a photo showing a time of peace, tranquility, observation, reflection, nature, yet another form of adult play and balance. There are many ways to play, many forms of play and for each individual, play will look very, very different. It’s not play if it feels like work.