“There is no description, no image in any book that is capable of replacing the sight of real trees, and all of the life to be found around them in a real forest.” — Maria Montessori
When Milo got into the car last week soaked from the chest down and barefoot, carrying his dripping shoes with him, I didn’t bat an eye. Looks like you guys had fun today, I said, and that was that. We consider ourselves lucky that his is a school that encourages kids to bring sleds in the winter when it snows, rain boots and slickers when it’s raining, and sunscreen for hot and sunny days. They will go outside unless there is lightening, we’re reminded every season when the weather inevitably shifts.
Too often, children are prohibited from enjoying the wildness of the outdoors — the mud, the rain, the water, the height of a strong tree branch and the view that unfolds, the stick that can be turned into a sword, a bow, a shovel, or the base of a fort. Do not pick up anything off the ground, my child was told during public school recess when he bent over to collect a pinecone off the ground. Anything? he had asked. I cannot express the sick feeling that unfurled in the pit of my stomach when he retold this story later in the day. I also cannot express, without sounding a bit over-the-top, how a big part of our decision to move him to a Montessori school can be traced back to that sentence. That those simple words said so much more about the overall culture of the place, the misunderstanding of child development, the rigidity of the rules that had more to do with laziness than a passion for watching a child learn and discover the world around him.
“How often is the soul of man – especially in childhood – deprived because he is not allowed to come in contact with nature.” — Maria Montessori
That is why my heart filled with joy upon discovering what had really happened that day (one of many) that one of my sons entered the car at the end of the day completely filthy and smiling from ear to ear. They had, obviously, found an incredible mud puddle during their recess time.
I laughed as I looked at all of the pictures (many of the children in Milo and Oliver’s class ended up covered and jubilant by the end of the series of photos), and asked Milo to tell me about it. What did your teachers think when they saw you doing this? I asked. His response made me smile. Oh! They all laughed and some of them took pictures! They hosed us all off afterwards.
Photos showed the kids getting hosed off with clean water and bundled in towels before they headed back inside for the remainder of their school day. No biggie. Just kids being kids. How awesome is that?!
And thank you again for the amazing photos, which I lifted off the boys’ school Facebook page. These moments are too incredible not to share!