Power of N(ature)

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Today I took an extra little person to the forest with me, together with a friend of mine and my kids.

My kids are already so used to going to the forest, they walk in like it is their backyard.  They also have learned to maneuver in the forest and in other challenging terrains without tripping. My 2-year-old mostly navigates straight into the puddles, purposefully and with a with a big grin.

As soon as we got there, this extra little person told me his plan: he was going to collect this and that, climb all the trees around and definitely stomp around in the mud pools I had told him we would find in this particularly wet forest. He was goal oriented and determined. I couldn´t help but get the feeling he was there to process the forest, to do it, and get it over with. Mind you, it was a very positive place for him to be in,  but there was a feeling of hurry about him.

I tried to point out a few things (hear that sounds? see that little hole?), show a few things (the fungi on the tree trunks “eating” the dead wood, the heart-shaped seeds on the ground), but mostly leave them all to play freely as we walked along slowly.
I made them walk through the whole loop, which is less than 2km, and through the course of it, he calmed down. Not because he was tired, but because of the effect of the forest. It was quiet. We were the only ones there. And he could do whatever he wanted.

When we returned him home, I got a big hug and a question “when do we go again?”. Mission accomplished.

The feedback I got from the little ones mom made me even more convinced it had been the forest working on him as the mom reported seeing a calm child behaving nicely later on the same evening.

This experience reminded me of how crucial it is to enter the forest in a small group to be able to get the best out of it. In this country, finding a place without man made sounds (cars, industry, air planes) is difficult and therefore, we are all constantly bombarded with noise. Therefore, those moments we do find some silence, it´s best to make use of them in small groups, rather than having a whole class enter the forest and ending up filling that space too with man made sounds. In that case, we could just as well stay in the city playground .

I also learned that even if you take your kids to the forest every week, if you always plant ideas and expectations in their heads, and always tell them to ´quick, go climb a tree, pick a flower, do this and that…and remember to enjoy!!´, a lot of it is lost as there needn’t be any hurry in nature. So, let´s just open the door to nature without expectations,  and let the children do their thing, and nature WILL do its magic.

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