Mudpies: Gourmet or Homestyle
“What made you think you could possibly make mud pies on your own?” Skenazy says sarcastically. “Are you a baby Martha Stewart of something?”
Skenazy goes on to describe how, in the past, a child could play with a stick and turn it into almost anything they needed. Now, you can go to a store and purchase a separate toy for every use a child could have come up with for a stick -- swords, wands, light sabers, etc.
“We live in a wonderful era when adults can give their kids almost everything imaginable, so the kids don’t have to imagine anything,” Skenazy points out.
Now imagine if you dropped your child off for pre-k in a five acre forest. There are no computers, no “educational toys,” no desks, and no letter match BINGO games. Instead there are buckets, rakes, and shovels, nature trails, and a fern-covered hut.
At Cedarsong Nature School there are only three buildings: one storage, one library, and one composting potty. At snack time children snack on “forest candy”, edible buds they collect from trees. They play music, climb trees, and run.
Erin Kenny, founder of the outdoor pre-k program, was a lawyer before she read Richard Louv's book "Last Child in the Woods." Now she spends every day playing in the woods and helping children learn “basic environmental science” in the natural environment. There is a counter movement to the assessment-heavy academic preschool underway in America that is offering just that -- an open-ended, play-based learning. What kind of education would your child get in a school like this?
Are there certain toys or gadgets a child must have to enhance learning or can they get just as much from the great outdoors?