Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Get Out! Literally..



When I was a little girl, I used to spend my holidays on a farm in a village where I had plenty of playmates and equally wide range of outdoor activities. For us, practically anything could be used as a playground: fields, orchards, cowshed, cows' feed tubs, tractors, trolleys, bullock carts... When I came back home all slathered in mud or grease, stinking, my mother would inevitably chase me with a bowl of 'ubtan' to rub out the grease, with a crease on her forehead on seeing her hardwork of bathing me and putting a clean frock on me all gone to waste.

But this meant a childhood full of fun and happy memories for me. Also the fact that I know my dals (pulses) by their actual names instead of calling them 'yellow dal' or 'black dal' is largely attributed to the fact that I have seen them growing in the fields. In school, whether I was taught about crop cycles or Mendel's genetic experiments with peas, I could relate to them with a view. 

Coco playing in the dug up lawn
Slowly technology crept into our lives and took over every aspect of the simple lives that we had. Kids nowadays do not see a lot of outdoor space, they do not get to play with mud or climb trees. Keeping with the times, they play with latest gadgets, mostly indoors, their eyes glued to some or the other screen. In the era of apartment living, at the most they might be forced to go to a nearby park where they might not find anyone to play with. They might understand complicated menus but they might not be able to tell between a mango tree and a margosa tree if they see one. Watching a fruit tree laden with fruits is a pleasure greater than eating the fruit, and this, they might not know. They will not understand the joys of picking flowers, watching birds and catching butterflies and ladybugs.

I have always wanted my child to see nature up close and understand it like I did or even better. But playing outdoors is not only useful in that aspect. A few days ago I was talking to one of my friends who is a play school teacher and has trained on new methods of learning. She suggested that I make a sand pit for my son in the space available in the lawn outside. She told me that kids learn a lot by simply playing in the natural environment. Learning to jump in the sand means that they are learning to control their movements in coordination, using both their feet simultaneously, Give them a bucket, a mug and a shovel and just watch them filling and emptying vessels. Even this simple activity develops their gross motor skills and fine motor skills as well.
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