Thursday, April 17, 2008

Waldkindergarten


While my son is asleep I ponder about his growing mind and body.

During his 16th month, he has learned a mind boggling amount of words. He has learned and can recognise all but four of the capital letters of the alphabet... and we don't even know how he started learning them! When holding up two objects, he says 'two'. He recognizes and knows the difference between a circle and an oval, as well as a triangle from a diamond. Last night, we started to count all the words he presently knows, but stopped at 120. He can now say two-word sentences: 'Please Dada' or 'My Car' or 'Hey Baby' or 'More Please'. How did he learn so quickly? Who taught him? And where did he learn all this?

During my quiet moments, I contemplate our homeschool preschool situation when he is ready. Do I teach him like a teacher in a classroom or totally unschool him. Is he ready for it now? Is he gifted? Or advanced? If I teach him too soon, will he rebel? If I don't, is he going to be bored? I surf the net and read books on preschool curricula - what an endless supply of information! Where do I even start? I decide in the end to remain steadfast with the belief in a child-led education. It would be better for him to tell me what he wants to learn and when. Why force anything? It's just like when I want to change his diapers these days. If I initiate it, he runs away and fights. But if I wait (and do something else that I really need to do in the meantime), he comes to me when he's ready and the diaper change is quick and happy for both of us. Easy, no stress, no pressure and not to mention good use of our time.

Today I read about Waldkindergartens in the newspaper. What a wonderful idea to go back to the true roots of a kindergarten! These kindergartens for 3 to 6 year olds in Germany are held outdoors instead of indoors. There are no toys, no texts nor computers - just the joy of singing, running and playing in and with nature. What a breath of fresh air! Apparently, the children who attend Waldkindergartens are better at motivation, concentration and social behaviour skills than their true classroom counterparts, but the latter fared better with artistic and cognitive abilities. I wonder if I could find a balance here for our own homeschool. I guess time will only tell.

German Tots Learn To Answer Call Of Nature
- WSJ article
Wood Kindergarten - Wikepedia
Playful Learning - international research on children's play and learning, scroll down to page 3

Reader's replies to Mothering Magazine's article on Waldkindergartens

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