cultivate a wonder-filled childhood

 

Hello friends!  I am so thrilled to be visiting the amazing Fin and Vince and sharing my heart with you all today! You can find me over on my Instagram account, @the.hidden.way and my newly launched blog www.thehiddenway.org, where I share our days as a homeschooling family of six.  Through the lenses of universal motherhood and a slow-lived, homeschool lifestyle, you will find encouragement and practical inspiration as you take on the daily task of motherhood and live with purpose and perseverance!  In no particular order, here are my top ten ways to cultivate a wonder-filled childhood regularly used in our home.

 

1. BUILD A FORT.

Or a teepee or a pillow fort or a blanket fort or an under-the-kitchen-table fort.  

Or even a pile of sticks and leaves fort.  

The material and location don’t matter as much as the act of crafting something from odds and ends, innovating and designing, troubleshooting and creating a place to hide, to play, to imagine.  

Ten extra points if you get in there with them!  (Hey, we’re all looking for extra points, right?) 

Spend a quick five minutes crawling around your hands and knees you will single-handedly bump up their play experience to epic-level - one they will surely reminisce on and never forget.

 

2. RAISE BACKYARD CHICKENS OR DUCKS (OR BOTH!)

Obviously not everyone can do this, but your odds of pulling this one off are really quite higher than you think! Check with your local ordinances - sometimes even smack dab in suburbia people are allowed to own at least a few chickens.

I will attest that there is nothing more satisfying for a child than walking outside and grabbing some fresh eggs for baking or for breakfast. And the ambience of those little ladies pecking away at bugs and lounging in the sun, clucking about their day and pruning their feathers just can’t be beat.

Every year at spring time we raise a couple from day-old chick status. It’s the perfect way to introduce animal handling and responsibility to their young lives - they’ll be so enchanted by the little fluff balls they won’t even realize they’re growing and learning!

3. READ ALOUD WITH FUNNY VOICES.

This is a big one at our house. Story-time is a.k.a “mom-getting-to-live-out-her-acting-dream (anyone? Just me? )-whilst-covered-in-spilled-milk-and-pasta-sauce-simultaneously-seeing-how-many-children-can-fit-in-the-center-of-her-lap-at-one-time-without-her-legs-going-numb” time.

All I have to say is dreams really do come true and don’t you dare forget it.

And if YOUR dream is to feel alive and like all the world’s a stage then get that “crazy old lady” voice warmed up and work on that cat meow, because story-time is a big deal and by golly you’re gonna make it magical if it’s the last thing you do! Thanks to your commitment to the craft, you’ll have those little wildlings hanging on every word you say, eyes all a-sparkle.

And THAT, my friend, is a gift if I ever saw one.

 

4. TAKE THINGS APART TOGETHER.

Okay, this is a really fun one.

In fact, for bonus points, I’d even go so far to say that this is my FAVORITE STEM project for kids.

We try and save old electronics that have reached the end of their time on earth and reignite purpose into their hollow bones by having the ultimate take-it-apart party. And you should too!

It helps to have some of Daddy or Grampa’s tools but you can do a real number on these with even just some screwdrivers and a wirecutter. (Does that sound intense? I promise it’s not really )

Anywhere you can, set up a little spot to start disassembling - we have a workbench in Grampa’s workshop - will be sure to be the perfect spot to ignite wonder and learning.

Each little compartment opened and each little part collected and sorted will spur your child’s imagination on, opening up their minds to new concepts, ideas, curiosities. This style of loose parts learning has more benefits than you can imagine. Set them up and then step back and watch the magic unfold.

 

5. PAY ATTENTION TO THE SKY.

We’re always looking up.

In the morning to see the sun return, during those electric moments when heavy gray clouds roll in as a storm heads our way, when the sky lights up like a spilled rainbow paint can morphing with every minute that passes as the sun sinks below the horizon.

In fact, we’ve recently gotten into the habit of announcing to each other the arrival of those vibrant colors that stretch across the evening sky the instant one of us notices it .

We all Oo and ah, as much as if we’ve seen a rainbow - sometimes even moreso. The way the clouds shift and the pinks sometimes look like they’re on fire.

Then just as we begin to lament the loss of our beloved colors, we notice the breathtaking sparkle of the stars..the Milky Way..the glowing moon that follows us around like a puppy.

It’s always different and yet it’s always the same - like your favorite show on repeat - it just never seems to get old.

6. GROW A FLOWER CUTTING GARDEN.

I mean, this is as wondrous for me as it is for the kids, let’s be honest.

The act of digging in the dirt, connecting to the earth and guiding life as it erupts and thrives from a tiny little seed is fascinating in itself. What’s even better is the satisfaction of being able to walk out near-daily in the summer-time to gather blooms to our heart’s content.

It’s the chore that’s really more a treat.

There are many species of hardy and easy-to-grow cut-flower perennials that will come back and multiply year after year. Our favorites that fill our garden are Phlox, Liatris, Balloon flower, Black-eyed Susan, Coreopsis, Catmint, Daylily, Echinacea, Iris, and Sundrop. In addition to those, we plant a large annual bed of cut-and-come-again Zinnia. The more you pick them, the more vibrant and colorful blooms they produce.

And let’s be honest,

“I have too many flowers,”….

said no one ever!!



7. TAKE NATURE WALKS.

Walks, hikes, adventures..call them what you will, but they all accomplish the same thing - cultivating an appreciation for things of the natural world, an appreciation for the seasons, for time, for life, for death, for beauty, for struggle, for perseverance -

it all can be found in the forest, can’t it?

Is there anything more magical than dappled light pouring in through a canopy of newly opened leaves?

Or the quiet stillness of a freshly fallen snow?

The call of an owl, the fallen pinecones beneath a tree, the intricate design of a web - these are the things that will bring enchantment to their days, wonder to their hearts..inspiration..joy...purpose.

There is something grounding and centering that occurs when we immerse ourselves in Creation.

When we teach our children to appreciate these simple things, these small things, what we are really doing is equipping them to find happiness despite circumstances..Peace despite trials.

And that, dear friend, is an immeasurable thing to carry through a life.

 

8. CHASE THE GOLDEN LIGHT.
Chase it, dance in it, sit in it and bask in its warm glow.

Whatever you do, just GO to it.

Wherever it is, whichever window in drips into, whatever part of the yard it paints - stop what you’re doing and drench yourself in it.

You’ll never be sorry.

In fact you’ll likely feel your spirits lift instantly - because these simple ceremonious acts inject joy into the mundane. They free us from our troubles, if only for a few moments.

My children and I know exactly what time the golden light will come and exactly where it will be in the yard.

And there truly is nothing like it.

It’s saturated hue delights us every time - we dance and take pictures and watch the little particles of dust float in the warm beams, shooting down from the trees and dissipating into the ground.

They’re sure something special is happening when we’re standing there for I always make a point of reminding them how rich in vitamin D the golden light is. They stand with palms open and quiet smiles, eyes closed, drinking it up like a magical elixir, ever so sure of its potency.

9. PURSUE ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS TOGETHER.

Why on earth does it always look like the moon is following us?

And do ants sleep?

And how many moons does Jupiter have anyhow?

These and more are the kinds of questions I get on the daily and I’m sure you get your fair share of ‘why thises’ and ‘why thats’ too.

That innate wonder in a child - propelling them to learn, to explore - capitalize on it! Feed it! Give them the tools to discover and learn for themselves by learning alongside them. Show them how to find the answers to questions.

READ: We google EVERYTHING. Lol! And YouTube!

I mean, there’s gotta be a YouTube video for every question you can come up with.

Get in there and dig for those answers - help them unlock the secrets of this world and how things work. Teach them to follow their curiosities and to think critically - you’ll be amazed at how they grow and how much they absorb.

This kind of interest-led learning will likely be the most effective learning you will see your child do. So look for those sparks and IGNITE them into roaring flames.

And most importantly - do it TOGETHER.

10. TEACH YOUR CHILDREN TO NOTICE DETAILS.

You know how that saying goes, don’t you? Appreciate the little things because one day you’ll realize they were the big things all along. (well - something like that , anyway lol)

We need to come alongside our kids and train their eyes to see the beauty in the details. The hidden magic in the mundane.

Encourage them to use their imaginations by showing them how we use ours - what do they see when they look at that scribble, that cloud, that tree branch?

Do they see the patterns? The colors?

Do they see the abstract images their minds identify as the midday clouds sail across the sky?

The dragon?

The rabbit?

It’s all there - it’s all always been there, ya know? We just have to teach them to see it.

And it’s really not hard. Really, anyone can do it.

All it takes is a little imagination... smidge of time...and a big healthy dollop of childlike wonder.