This past weekend was our Natural Learning Retreat for the beautiful mothers who keep our Aspen Cooperative going. Before I tell you a little about our retreat, I have to give a big shout out to all of the dads who stayed home with the kids and allowed us this much-needed time together!
We started by learning about the importance of Observation in getting to know our children on a deeper level. It’s easy to keep busy doing “Mom Stuff” and meeting the physical needs of our children, but how often do we take time to “see” our children? Observation is watching our children with the desire to learn what brings a light to their eyes. It’s setting aside time to give them some added attention and then to write down our own thoughts about it. It’s talking to our children about what matters most to them and recording their ideas.
The moms at our retreat were enthusiastic participants as I invited them to do the following experiment:
They were asked to find a quiet place, think about one of their children and answer a series of questions about that child. After they had written their answers, they pulled our their cell phones and called their child to ask them the same questions. At the end of our experiment we were able to share some insights regarding how we see our child and how they see themselves. There was laughter all around as well as some very thought-provoking observations. I would challenge you to do it yourselves.
Next we participated in our own Natural Learning as we chose the activities that we were most interested in attending. All of these activities were shared by the mothers themselves! Teri shared her theatrical talents and performed a few songs from “My Fair Lady.” Encore please! We also got to experience cooking, journaling, story telling, and many more inspiring gifts.
Each of these activities was an Environment for us to share in. Environments are so critical to Natural Learning and take the place of curriculum. Having freedom to follow our interests, or perhaps learn something we had never considered before, will foster learning and growth in so many ways. I loved how one mother put it: “So an environment is anything that feeds the child’s interest!” That’s a perfect description. Environments feed our children’s interests AND heighten their curiosity.
What I Observed, after being with these “Fair Ladies,” is that moms need time to talk together, to share their hearts and their concerns, to feel Heavenly Father’s love and guidance and to be reassured that they are doing a marvelous thing. It was an honor to be together.