“Everyone is smart, but if you tell a fish to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life thinking it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein
I am spending a lot of time thinking about life choices, paths and opportunities. We often spend a large part of our lives trying to figure out what we are meant to do, or who we are meant to be. I spend a lot of time watching children, being a teacher and all, and I think we need to tune into the natural, innocent “knowing” that children poses. We try to make children conform to our preconceived notion of who they should be or to fit into the mold that the experts determine is right for children, what they should be able to do by a certain age, how they should learn, and how we can measure their knowledge. But, what if they are wrong? What if children are born to be something else, to learn in a different way and perhaps even to teach us?
Observation is a great tool that is often underutilized but always available. The next time you have the opportunity to observe children at play, take the time to really watch their actions, interactions with other children and choice of play. Some choose solitary play, quiet time alone. Perhaps they a retreating from an overstimulated life. Some chose to softly sing or hum, giving their life a soundtrack, future composers in the making. Some chose to recreate family situations that need more processing to understand totally. Some choose to draw elaborate scenes of dream worlds or scenes of events from their past. Children need to process information and they need the time and medium to do that without interruption of adult direction. Play is the method through which children learn and they need time for unstructured, child-centered play.
Take the time to think like a child. Instead of completing a list of “have too” tasks, create a list of “want to” activities. Think like a child. What will help you process your world? A quiet walk along the shore? A hike in the mountains? A dance class or listening to a concert? Sometimes creating art is a way to process reality. For me, it can be all of these things, but writing is the way I process-thinking on paper.
Children are innocent and don’t rely on preconceived notions, just on immediate desire. Their play erupts from ideas hatched spontaneously, relying on instinct. Trust your children to know their path. At the most, you will give them the gift of acceptance, at the least they will be happy trying.