Friday, January 31, 2014

The Two Roads Project: Learning

Sarah: (left) They say parenting gives you the chance to learn things over again. You combine the wisdom accumulated through your own years with the fresh, innocent perspective of a child. I don't require tutelage in the correct way to hold a pencil, nor lessons in using said pencil to form the letters of our English alphabet. Watching Abby communicate her thoughts through scribbled letter combinations, however, awakens in me the sense I have much still to learn. 
She writes lists of her friends names, of the people in her family. She scrawls stories and draws accompanying pictures. I help her when she asks, but I otherwise leave her to her work. I observe her become frustrated, cross out mistakes. She is careful, deliberate in her markings. She is proud of her finished product, not because it is perfect, but because she did it. She took what she knew already and built upon it to develop a higher skill level. Then she might go play with her ponies, just the same.
Perhaps there is room in my writing practice for a five-year-old's approach: purpose, humility, persistence, satisfaction followed by a careless letting-go. 

Johanna (right): Learning. It never stops, from when we are tiny babes, to full grown adults. I truly am fascinated with people's individual learning journeys, and often spend an unusual amount of time thinking about how I can help my children to love learning. There are the goals that society tells us that our children need to achieve. Letter and number recognition, reading and writing, these are just some of the expectations that are made of our little ones in kindergarden, despite hearing from many early educational experts that in fact, these skills are not as important and necessary, as let's say, play and exploration is. 
In my heart, I feel that people (especially children) learn in all sorts of environments and ways, and that a traditional classroom is not the only place where learning can take place. 
In our day to day life, learning takes place. When we step outside, we learn. We talk about the weather, the sky, the formation of snow crystals and why they might look a certain way. When we go to the library, we learn. We learn about new topics, we see new pictures, we talk about art and animals and anything else that might be of interest to us. When we are at home, we learn. We do life skills, such as cooking and cleaning. We make art, we bake, we read, we make forts. We spend time building our relationships, we learn to share, we learn to fight fairly, we learn to love. 
My hope for my children, is that they can learn in an environment that accommodates their needs and that they are taught in a variety of ways, so that in the end they can find joy in learning. As a child, I think that this was one of my greatest struggles, feeling like I had any success in learning. So really, what it really boils down to, is that, I just want them to enjoy learning. That is my hope for them.

The well-known poem by Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken ends, "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-- I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."
Two women, who became friends via the magic of the Internet, were both living life on roads less traveled by. Circumstance had them both live in Whitehorse for a short time, where they became best friends. Life's map has them currently in differing geographic locations, but their connection and camaraderie continue as they continue on paths of motherhood, friendship, creativity and discovery. The Two Roads Project is our effort to reconnect with each other and our inner artists on a weekly basis, each Friday. (Or thereabouts. We don't always know which day of the week it is).

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