As I mentioned last week, lately we’ve been indoors more than usual, and while I value indoor activities in their own manner, there’s nothing quite like exploring the outdoors, especially with children. We spent all day Saturday inside cleaning in spite of the beautiful weather (blech!), so when Sunday arrived with glorious sun expected to warm us to almost 70 degrees (!), Mark and I agreed a day hike in the nearby pines would be the best way to enjoy some quality family time and the weather. So we all filled our water bottles, threw some PB&J sandwiches and fruit into a backpack, piled into our old ‘Burban, and headed to the nearest state park. We upturned rocks, climbed through thickets, studied the layers of tree bark, and watched for various wildlife and young trees sprouting the park floors. With the sun trickling down through the tree-line, we noticed the various fungi growing along some of the trees — “Oh! That’s one of the kingdoms of living things!” Blythe exclaimed. (Thank you, Classical Conversations.) As the kids continued to touch and observe and breathe in just a few of the things they’ve learned through memory work or books, I was reminded of this quote by Charlotte Mason, a 19th century educator:
The question is not — how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education — but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?
One of the greatest gifts to me through my children and home-education is re-discovering wonderment. Wonder is easy for children. Everything is new, and if isn’t new, they will find something new to do with it or learn about it. But what about we adults? Often confined by our responsibility and practicality, we forget. Isn’t that what Barrie was addressing in Peter Pan? As grown-ups we forget to dream? To play? To discover? We even use the adjective childish in a condescending manner, as though immaturity and wonder and carefree-ness all equate. I get it. I know as adults we cannot literally live as children (nor would we really want to), but as I do live and learn alongside my children, I am understanding that I cannot live fully as an adult without wonder either. Exactly how full are our lives and how large the room where we tread? I’m still finding out.