I have really noticed a change in the kids since starting our Waldorf / Charlotte Mason journey. This has been especially prominent during our trips up north or to the nearest wooded area.
Here is how they are changing:
1. Long trips in the car no longer require DVD players or Leap Pads.
I know. I KNOW. Most people in the Waldorf / Charlotte Mason community have already jumped on the no media lifestyle thing. I have not. And up until now, the DVD player was a pleasant way to keep the kids entertained on those traffic filled trips up north.
But something has changed this year.
The DVD players are still on, but the kids aren't paying any attention. Instead they are looking out the windows again, noticing what is around them, chattering endlessly about the animals, rattling fact after fact they have picked up from read alouds, and calling out the shapes they see in the clouds. And they also aren't bickering, but creating games and laughing and enjoying their time together.
(On a side note, I wouldn't be totally truthful if I said I was 100% thrilled with this development. Don't get me wrong, I know how wonderful it is. I KNOW this is better than having them stare at a screen for two hours with earphones on their heads. But those two hours used to be my time with my husband, where we were able to have a conversation without the kids really interrupting. I know this is better, but I crave those hours again to have much needed quiet time with my husband.)
2. Nature is no longer scary
This last year we have really been out in nature. A lot. And it has really changed the way my kids see all the creepy crawlies out and about on our journey. Last year, this would have never happened:
Touching a fuzzy caterpillar? No problem!
Holding a small hopper? Yay!! (big hoppers are equally exciting, and just as snuggly, but I have yet to get a picture of one because I never seem to get to my camera fast enough. The big guys are a lot less patient than the little ones.)
Fishing with this huge, body the size of a quarter, creepy crawly hanging out on the dock?? They didn't even bat an eye.
Now, I will admit that if any creepy crawly gets in to the house, there is still some nervousness and need for removal. Though my son has proudly said that spiders don't bother him anymore unless they are bigger than a dime. Progress, people, progress.
3. We can be in nature, and enjoy nature.
There is no grumbling about being cold, hot, bored, tired or not seeing anything.
We can even now sit quietly and draw or paint what we see. THIS is a miracle in my books, because there is nothing I love better than to attempt to sketch out something I see in nature.
4. Mama doesn't freak out at the creepy crawlies or random jumpers and sliders that cross our path.
I'm not running to be the first to pick it up, but I'm also not running in the opposite direction.
Progress people, progress.
Instead of freaking out I calmly look at their find and we talk about it. Frogs, turtles, caterpillars and beetles I'm good with handling. I haven't made it to garden snakes yet, and I'm pretty sure you'll never see me picking up a spider.
I also have adopted a new reaction to bugs in the house or bunkie. It goes something like this:
"Hello buggy. You stay over there, I'll stay over here, nobody gets hurt. You violate the terms of this agreement and I get the bug catcher."
(something I still hate doing because of the close proximity needed to catch the darn buggers)
This method has worked surprisingly well. I seem to have a knack for communicating with bugs.
And most importantly, the fifth and most wonderful change I have noticed:
5. We NOTICE things now that we never paid attention to before.
We hear the birds chirping, even when we are in the house, and can now easily identify all the major backyard birds we've encountered. New bird sounds? That is like a treasure hunt. We grab the binoculars, our bird books and our bird app and try and piece it together until we have figured out what type of bird it is.
Just yesterday during our main lesson, Alexander froze and turned his head toward the window. He had heard the first of the cicada bugs. Now he looks for skins on all the trees hoping to see where they are drying their wings.
Over the weekend they noticed a difference in the pile of leaves way off in a corner of our garden. There was a very small hole on top of the pile, and after waiting for a long long time, they saw the nose of a little chipmunk poking out.
The list is endless, and so is the excitement they feel when they discover something new.
If nothing at all measurable ever comes out of homeschooling my kids, if this whole thing totally flops right in my face, I will know that one thing worked and was worth this crazy journey.
My kids have a connection with the earth, and if we continue to foster its growth, will never be broken and will always shape who they are and the decisions they make.
And that makes me one happy mama.