The outdoors are immeasurably valuable to young children’s growth and development. Developing a connection and awareness of nature and wildlife is a priority for my daughters’ childhood.
When my daughters and I go outdoors, I have no intentions for “education” to happen, though it always does.
This week the lesson was for me.
As Greysen and Moon (3 and 2 years old) age, I find myself occasionally reviewing the RIE Principles. These tenets were easier for me to see and understand when the girls were infants and toddlers, but now I find myself trying to figure out how I can support the development of an authentic childhood as they get older.
Last I looked at the list of characteristics of children who experience an authentic childhood as explained by RIE, the word “peaceful” jumped out at me. As infants, it was much easier for me to see how the children were serene, but now as toddlers? Let’s just say that when I think of my children, it is not in the top 10 list of words that come to mind. My children are great, active, enthusiastic, loving, curious, connected, conversational, and challenging – but peaceful?
Last week I kept asking myself how I could create the circumstances that would allow for my children to feel peaceful. In time, I realized that as we went about our regular days, they experienced this type of engagement regularly.
Just like me, Greysen and Moon were most peaceful when:
- We were outside. There is something about being surrounded by natural beauty that young children connect with.
- They have autonomy. When the girls had the opportunity to direct their own play, games, etc., they were peaceful. Peace in toddlerhood very often happens while children are engrossed.
- They had regular periods of uninterrupted time to play. When the girls play they need a fair amount of time to get their play going or to just hang out.
In childhood, peace isn’t always serene or calm, though it absolutely can be. Greysen is absolutely joyful here, but I suspect that there could be peaceful feelings teeming underneath.
What does peaceful look like in the life of your toddler or young child?