Our kids take pleasure in “playing outside until it’s dark,” which is easier to do now that the sun sets so early. Late one afternoon, while playing outside, our little girl looked up at the moon and excitedly said, “Look, it’s half of the moon!”
She was right. And she had just done math, powered by the keen powers of childlike curiosity and observation. We never taught her about the cycles of the moon or explained the concept of fractions.
But we have sliced fruit and vegetables. So, in all likelihood, she applied her knowledge of an apple slice to the moon. That’s a pretty big jump in reasoning for a little kid.
But you know what the most amazing thing is? Our kids — yours, mine, all of ours — make these leaps everyday, oftentimes all on their own. They are little explorers, collecting nuggets of knowledge, feeling the world around them, and trying to make sense of it all.
As parents, we sometimes feel the enormous pressure of having to “educate” our children on every subject under the sun (or moon). We worry about what our children “should know” during a particular stage in development.
But perhaps we shouldn’t put all that pressure on ourselves. Our kids are figuring out this world through play, through curiosity, and through their everyday adventures.
When we talk of adventures, we’re not just talking about epic treks up mountain peaks or long journeys down winding rivers. In all honesty, we’re not quite up for an epic adventure yet with our three-year-old twins.
Instead, we’re talking about the everyday adventures and simple pleasures, like baking gingerbread cookies and delivering two each to the neighbors on our block. Once our kids got over having to part with a few of their precious gingerbread men and women, they got into the spirit of giving. They carefully counted — 1, 2 — and placed the gingerbread cookies into a little bag for each neighbor. With big smiles, they proudly handed each neighbor a little baggie with two gingerbread cookies. Yes, they melt hearts!
For us, it’s not so much about explaining every piece of information to our children. We could’ve explained the concept of giving and being a good neighbor, but the simple act of handing out gingerbread cookies proved much more instructive than words could ever be.
Kids learn through their hands-on experiences and self-discovery. We are the guides, of course, the ones who are there to hug them, pick them up when they tumble, read books at nighttime, and just love and nourish them in every way imaginable. But we don’t need to be a wikipedia page for our kids.
And that’s because kids observe. They pick things up, figure things out, and trust their imagination. They discover something new everyday.
It’s one reason why we’re drawn to merino wool. Our 3-year-olds sleep in their toddler beds on top of their merino wool sheets and snuggling up to their merino companion blankets. They know that merino wool comes from a sheep (Mommy and Daddy love sheep!), but they can’t really imagine the process from shearing a sheep, to knitting the merino fiber, to finishing a garment. There are a few gaps in their knowledge, and that's okay.
But we hope to have made something clear to them: Nature matters. We respect and treasure what nature can provide.
Who knows, maybe our little boy or girl will make another connection down the road. Just as they connected an apple to the moon, perhaps they’ll connect an appreciation for sheep with an appreciation for a redwood forest or a rocky ocean coast. And, no doubt, they’ll continue to surprise us on our everyday adventures.