The children have settled in so well, the rhythm is flowing, and every second of our time spent together is a blessing. I am forever grateful to the parents to have given me the privilege to be part of their precious little ones’ first steps in life. Little by little, these steps are getting more steady, more controlled and more appreciative.
Part of this appreciation is our nature walk. We are walking every day, if we can, for 30 minutes… and it is always the same walk. Some might wonder why? Aren’t the children bored? They are, indeed, always very happy, and of course they don’t realise the benefit of this daily walk (Even though there will be times during the year where we will explore other areas). Our walk is always the same, because the children feel secure. They know where we are going, they know it’s ok, they can do it, they know they won’t get lost. And overall, they know it’s fun. There are no tricks. They can then relax, and enjoy.
At first, when the children go outside, they put shoes on and hats on… and then I sing:
“Here comes the little train, runs in sunshine runs in rain, hop on quick, don’t be slow, now it’s time for the train to go. Tshoo tshoo!!”
Not long after my call, all children are gathered in front of the gate, busy finding a walking partner, or two or sometimes three! It doesn’t take very long, as they know what is happening. There are no questions, it is just something that happens every day. What a timesaver for us adults. And what a gain of independence for the children.
And off the little walking train goes, following the same path, every day. Every passenger knows where we are going and they know what is happening next. They know we are visiting the geese, then we have a run. We then say hello to the fairies in fairyland, and say hello to Grandfather Tree. With the seasonal changes, we have noticed some mushrooms that weren’t there before. The children have noticed that there were no more ‘waterfalls’ at the creek, and that the water was still. By always doing the same walk, the children notice the changes in nature, in season, much more than if it was a different walk. This familiarity becomes part of their habits, and the surroundings become their neighbourhood. We often say hello to the children in Classes 1 and 2 next door, and we say hello to the adults we encounter in Kazcare.
Walking is something that unfortunately we practise less and less in this busy society. However, it is very necessary for the good development of human beings: it helps us relax (especially in nature) and it balances our emotions and physical capacities.
Helle Heckmann is a very experienced Steiner Kindy Teacher from Denmark. In her Kindy the children spend most of the day outside, in any weather (keep in mind that in Denmark it rains 80 percent of the time.) I highly recommend her book Slow Parenting, and this is what she says in it:
“There are many reasons why it is good for children to walk. When you walk, you make both the right and left sides of the body coordinate… Children practise their sense of equilibrium when walking… Walking causes deep breathing that goes all the way down into the diaphragm, and it is clear to us that this makes the children calm down.”
This walk brings us much more than only a banal exercise, but rather it brings a sense of belonging, the sense that we are part of a community. You can try one day and ask your child to show you the walk. They will know where to go and they won’t get lost. The world has become for them a bit more reachable, a bit more secure, a bit more part of their little steps in life…
Happy walking everyone,
Early Childhood Coordinator & Wattle Room Teacher