Speaking of the HG’s Reading…
The Equuschick last month read Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder
and Beyond Ecophobia: Reclaiming the Heart in Nature Education (Nature Literacy Series, Vol. 1) (Nature Literacy).
They were on one level, books on completely different subjects than Jane Healy’s. But in another way, there was definitive overlap. You cannot study how children learn to impact their environment without also observing how the natural environment works itself to influence the minds of children and adults alike.
Perhaps the most relevant and at the same time least surprising mention was the link between increased time outdoors and reduced ADD statistics and symptoms. (The author of the first book put it quite simply. “The woods were my ritalin.”) There are no doubt many reasons for this, not least of which being the fact that nature simply moves at a slower pace than your average television screen.
But The Equuschick suspects as well that these statistics have some roots in the simple fact that small children like to be outdoors, and they do not like to sit at desks writing in workbooks, and since it is our habit in our culture today to raise children upside-down like, we spend a great deal of their younger childhoods teaching them things like self-discipline and time-management and other things that may be noble goals indeed, but things best suited for an older age.
The foundation of focused effort is knowing what that feels like in the first place. When small children are constantly rushed hither and thither and told counter-intuitively to “hurry up and pay attention” (at the same time, no less) they will never grasp in a concrete and intuitive way what it means to become completely absorbed in a task.
If you ask them therefore to devote their attentions entirely in one direction for a sustained period of time, you are asking them to aim for an invisible target. Take it from a homeschool graduate who would have been ADD in the classroom- Really, they have no idea what you’re talking about when you say “pay attention.” You might as well ask a child blind from birth to describe the color of red.
Take away the clock. Take away the timers, the workbooks, the schedules. When a child discovers something he likes enough to become absorbed in it, walk away and leave him to it. It may seem a meaningless task to you, but the foundation of focused effort is being built. This is a very precarious building process. Do Not Disturb.
Some people are going to have ADD tendencies at the very least and no matter what. It happens.
But sometimes, as The Equuschick is browsing through the catalogs she receives in the mail for toddlers and preschoolers and she finds yet another “time-management tool”, she wonders what happened first. Did the children distract the adults, or did the adults distract the children?