Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori said that "Play is the work of the child," and our educational model enthusiastically embraces this tenet. The Sunday evening after two weeks of spring break in March, Silas exclaimed how much he was looking forward to returning to his school the next day because it's so much fun. This is the same child who complained two years earlier that he hated school and whose self-esteem was visibly suffering from being in trouble frequently for "not controlling his body" - he couldn't sit still in the circle, he ran off the playground into the woods without permission, he wanted to play with sticks and wrestle with his friends. For him, that was fun. That was his type of play.
I was recently looking through a Northwest CT native species catalog as I was considered what to plant in some of our beds at home. It included a list of invasive species for reference to educate people on what not to plant. I asked Silas and Kunsang how many invasive species they could name. They missed two out of the entire list. The rest they rattled off: Japanese Barberry, Autumn Olive, Multiflora Rose, Japanese Knotweed, Bittersweet, etc. My children have a firm grasp on this practical knowledge and are quickly becoming effective stewards of the land. And they love to go to school. Here is some of the fun they have been up to:
The children had been asking to build a robot, so I ordered a kit for them to work on during the cold winter months. Turns out it was missing a few parts, but they didn't mind and built their own version with what was provided.
Even raking the snow off of our tent can be fun! Shameless plug: this is the shredded tent fly that will not make it through another winter and needs to be replaced with a more permanent structure. You can donate to our fundraising efforts here.
Boys + a large culvert pipe... need I say more?
Guess which mom gets to pick up a still-warm road-killed squirrel on the way to school one morning at her sons' pleading? This mom! Drew went with the flow and helped the boys build a stretching frame and skin the squirrel with his knife. They scraped it the next day and the finished pelt will remain at EWL for all to enjoy.
Who wouldn't want to make their own black writing ink with charcoal and use feather quills to practice their writing?
Or make natural dye with black walnut hulls then dye "camouflaging" t-shirts?
"Play is the work of the child," indeed.