Saturday, January 17, 2015

Let Them Wander

Most of our outdoor time lately has been spent climbing on our plow-made snow mountain. This always provides a great place to burn a lot of energy and use a lot of muscles in a short period of time. There are always great imaginative games going on. Mountain climbing, rescuing, capturing and other adventurous ideas that naturally take place up high on a mountain. 

A couple days this week we were outside a little longer and the children started to do a lot of sitting and looking bored. I suggested that anybody who was interested could take "a hike" down to the woods, as long as they could still see me. The group on Thursday was especially adventurous and I eventually had to tell them they had gone far enough. 

"Given a chance, a child will bring the confusion of the world to the woods, wash it in the creek, turn it over to see what lives on the unseen side of that confusion. Nature can frighten a child, too, and this fright serves a purpose. In nature, a child finds freedom, fantasy, and privacy: a place distant from the adult world, a separate peace."
 — Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods

I love being able to zoom in from far away and get a better idea of interactions. 

Children need space away from adults to feel like they can have their own conversations. 
They feel grown up and trusted. 

Decades ago children were always outside in their neighborhoods exploring for at least half the day without adults. We have taken that away from children. Children are losing the opportunities to work things out with their peers without adults swooping in to "help" them solve their conflicts or give them the "right" words. 

Several times I saw one child turn and look back to make sure that I was still there. 

The world must seem so big out there with no adult. 

 For More of the Outdoor Play Party and these homemade Bird Feeders at 


  1. A wonderful observation on your children here and well done for giving them a little scope. I have to say it is something I believe in too, my children have had the freedom of our farm from as early as I could trust them around the lakes and river. Learning in nature doesn't always require our help.

  2. I wish more parents would let their children spend unstructured time in the outdoors. I love that you let them head off on their own (while still being able to keep a watchful eye on them). There's nothing like playing in nature with your friends and no adults to constantly tell you to 'be careful'.

  3. This is wonderful, Jessica. I strongly believe that gradually giving children more and more freedom outdoors really makes them grow and understand that this freedom also comes with certain responsibilities. As adults we sometimes need to learn to take a step back and trust that the children will actually be OK without us constantly hovering nearby. Thanks for linking up to the #outdoorplayparty!

  4. This post is beautiful. It inspired me to take a step back this week and let my daughter feel her aloneness and connection to the forest. Thanks so much for sharing at the #outdoorplayparty