Tag Archives: natureplay

This is where the Mermaids Live. 

 

Bec Carey

Over the Christmas break I went camping with my family. During our trip,  I  spent time thinking about why so many people change their practice on holidays compared to their ‘real life’. Everyone seems friendlier, happy and connected, “sure kids you can go hang out at the tent with the people you just met, we are on holidays why not?!” While my family and I are avid adventurers in our day to day life and anyone that follows me personally on social media knows this already, I yearn to understand why to some a holiday means to completely change everything they do. I have previously discussed my view on the modern day parent of convenient choices, ipads are easier than tantrums right? If you missed it, you can read more about it here. My question today is, Why is it when people leave the safe and security of their homes, they relax their attitudes and unknowingly allow children more freedom and opportunities to engage in uninterrupted play? Perhaps it is because the pressures of working the 9-5 clock aren’t there. It may be because they are relaxed physically and therefore less stressed or it could be because they are outdoors, engaged with nature and those happy feel good endorphins are jet skiing through their veins. I like to believe it is a good combination of all of the above. This theory leads me to wonder, why can’t we hold onto this feeling. Why can’t our holiday vibes become our ‘real life?’

As I observed fellow campers chat and meet their neighbours, myself included.  I reflected on today’s fast paced society and how people live in neighborhoods without ever talking to the people they live so close to. Perhaps the smallness of tents and caravans force occupants to be outdoors and therefore interacting with others. It takes me back to the theory Richard Louv talks about in his book, ‘Last Child in the Woods’ where he discusses the change in history with houses now bigger, there is no need to seek space outdoors. Camping takes us back to basics, in an authentic way. Finally a solution to first world problems…. Knock down your houses people, replace it with a tent! But in all seriousness, why can’t this relaxed attitude and uncomplicated life become the norm? While I know not all people are in to camping, it’s just not their thing and work naturally consumes a hefty chunk of our day. It’s the nature connection,  a basic instinct we are depriving ourselves of with our giant houses, car rides and long work hours that is the problem. Sadly the children of today are merely collateral damage of our actions, unintentionally of course. Their future is in our hands, it’s up to us as educators and parents to provide them with time and space to play outdoors. We need to disconnect from technology and reconnect with each other and nature. Louv additionally developed the term, ‘Nature-Deficit Disorder’, a term used to describe the undeniable problem of today. If you haven’t read his book yet, I strongly recommend you do.

During our time away the children discovered a path that lead down the headland to a secluded rock heaven. This space quickly became known as ‘Our Secret Place’. Hours were spent sitting, exploring, discovering and hypothesizing. It became a place to build on their ideas, test out risky play and to just be. I observed as they worked together, supported each other, shared, argued and developed solutions. Eventually my role lessened as I took a step back and allowed time for them to independently explore. With my full trust they even began to go there together alone, racing back with stories to tell. There was an unspoken respect for the area, the secret place, it created sheer excitement and the thrill of new discoveries. On the first day, they discovered one fish carcass while the following day more had appeared.  Lakyn, simultaneously fascinated and grossed out by the sight couldn’t look away but was reluctant to touch them. Harper took on the responsibility and made the decision to return them to the water.  With her imagination fully unleashed and wild, she held the dead fish at arms length towards her brother and announced, “This is where the mermaids live, maybe they left them here.” 

  
  





  


  

A Moment in Time

Bec Carey

How much time do you spend reminiscing the past, dreaming of the future or stuck in regret of what might have been? How often are you truly in current time? Focused and completely lost in the moment. A moment of time. 

Time can have so many meanings. It is a measurement of seconds, minutes and hours. A way to add structure within our day, lunchtime, dinnertime and bedtime. It is how we plan, schedule and predict. Our existence revolves around it. To some adults, time feeds their desire for order and control. It gives reason to their actions and order to potential chaotic mess.  For children time has not yet developed these meanings. Time is continual. Time is irrelevant. The present time is a moment in time to just be. 

Too many times we have missed the moment. Whether it be that we have been focused on other agendas, become lost in time travelling thoughts or blinded by distractions, we are all guilty of not being mentally present. It seems that with the introduction of more technology, comes more distractions. Our brains become clouded with more thoughts, regret and dreams. Subsequently we have developed a fear, a fear of missing out. This fear takes our brains on a little vacation to a virtual reality. People have such a desire to stay overly connected to each other, to know everything about everyone and well, over sharing just doesn’t seem to be an issue. Oh great, you ate over cooked steak and soggy vegetables last night. I can sleep soundly in knowing that, Thank you. Our time is consumed by creating a particular image of ourselves or trying to document the perfect image of our children, we become lost and miss the significance of the here and now.

Don’t get me wrong, I am connected up to my eye balls. I have three Instagram accounts- all for different audiences, my personal Facebook- in addition to three Facebook pages that I manage. I have five different email addresses, a blog, messenger, iMessage and then there is my iPhone and camera, basically an extension of my iHand. I take photos of everything food included, #guilty. I currently have 8,552 photos on my iPhone and would probably actually die if I was to lose it.  As much as I am aware of my probable addiction, I struggle to create a balance and go for longer periods without……. But I just need to see the photos from my friends, friends, sister who I heard has just had a baby to my third cousins brother and apparently they gave birth under a waterfall. Oh and did you see that dancing panda that did a triple back flip while drinking a kale thickshake? Ah-mazing! My inner calm and balance comes from the comfort of my known connectedness to nature. I am just addicted to nature as I am to technology. While I know I don’t need my iPhone to climb my favourite fig tree, how amazing would a photo from that perspective be?! #selfie #sorrynotsorry

Our distraction has led to our disconnection from those right in front of us. The ones sitting next to us as we scroll through our phones, check our emails, distractedly think about documentation or spend time with them peering through a camera lens so we don’t miss the perfect photo opportunity. How will people know it happened if there is no evidence, right? Making memories and capturing time is more than just pretty documentation, having a trillion photos or social media records. It is the feelings, the thoughts and connection in the moment. Within Early Childhood Settings and even in our homes, we need to stop and think about the message we are sending to the children. We need to respect their right to privacy. Their right to unscheduled time. Their right to time in uninterrupted play, sans camera in the face, and preferably in nature.

The beauty of nature play is that time becomes redundant, it seems to go on forever. It is easy to get lost in the moment, lost in the play, deeply engaged and focused. You could possibly get lost in the bush too, but I’m sure you will have your trusty iCompass with youafter all it is all about creating a balance. As adults we can learn to prioritse our own time to re-think our role as Educators.   We can stop and critically think about what really matters, the actual authentic moment or the documentation that will come later? Until you clear your mind of distractions, schedules and pre-determined agendas you will never be really able to become lost in the moment of time.  The thought of leaving my phone at home when I go out, leaves me feeling naked and vulnerable. The actual act of not having it in my back pocket, leaves me feeling refreshed and free. I love it and I acknowledge that I need to do it more.

Creating a balance is all about mindfulness, purposeful acts and awareness. Time is continual, there is always tomorrow. Time is irrelevant, unscheduled your day. For children, time is a moment to be. Come out from behind your camera lens, put down your phone and log off. Disconnect from technology and reconnect with each other and the natural world. See the world for the beautiful place that it is, without an Instagram filter.