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Dear Readers,

How to Raise a Wild Child by Scott Sampson

How to Raise a Wild Child by Scott Sampson

Today on Tom Ashbrook’s On Point, the host interviewed the author of How to Raise a Wild Child: the Art and Science of Falling in Love with Nature by Scott Sampson.  (This was actually a re-broadcast of an earlier recording, but it was the first time I heard it). I have the book on my bed stand and have been reading it in fits and starts.  This has been a very humbling read, as I’ve recently been convicted about how little I’ve had my 16 year-old daughter outside enjoying nature and seeing the wonder of the created world around her.  There are a number of reasons for this (she is a ballet dancer which necessitates lots of time in ballet studios–these don’t exist outside, in addition to a very time-consuming online curriculum which stole about 7 or 8 hours a day!)  So, like Rip Van Winkle, I feel I’ve woken out of a long winter’s (technology) nap and am awake to real life again!  I’ve also been blessed and inspired by Ainsley Arment through her work at Be Wild and Free and have determined that this coming school year will be different.  So we’ve quit the demanding online academy and are taking a less stressful, more relaxed approach to our home education next year, including regularly scheduled outdoor times!  I’m so looking forward to this!

In that endeavor here are a few of the key points of Scott’s How to Raise a Wild Child book and interview:

• children today spend on average of 4-7 minutes outdoors and 7-10 hours at screens

• this phenomenon has reduced life expectancy, increased obesity, diabetes, anxiety, depression, ADHD, etc.

• this dramatic cultural shift has been driven by a “fear factor” wherein parents fear child abduction, when in reality the likelihood of child abduction is no greater than it was in 1950.

• the “busy factor” of “over-scheduled children”– who go directly from school to sports, music lessons, etc., with no time to play.

• finally, the “lure of technology” robs countless hours that previous generations of children spent outdoors, running, climbing trees, building forts, exploring and creating adventures.

What Scott Sampson sees in these modern trends is that we keep out children under a veritable “house arrest” where “free range children” are a dying breed!

The solution isn’t complicated or sophisticated, or only for the privileged.  It merely necessitates getting outside!  As one of the guests stated, “There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing!”  Children can be kept warm and dry no matter the weather with thoughtful and wise preparation. This resonates so beautifully with the philosophy of Charlotte Mason who advocated that children spend a minimum of 3 hours per day outside–rain or shine.  In spring and fall she insisted on even more time outdoors!

To be wild and free boys only need some water, rocks and trees. My adorable grandsons this weekend.

To be wild and free boys only need some water, rocks and trees. Two of my adorable grandsons this weekend.

In an age of helicopter parenting, where children are habitually supervised and smothered by parental involvement, I love the words of my eldest daughter’s parenting philosophy of “benevolent neglect!” There is so much truth to the notion that children need to be left alone to muse, create, ponder and reflect.  Charlotte Mason advocated the importance of free play noting,

Boys and girls must have time to invent episodes, carry on adventures, live heroic lives, lay sieges and carry forts, even if the fortress be an old armchair; and in these affairs the elders must neither meddle nor make.”

Scott Sampson likened it to “hummingbird parenting” where parents stay on the periphery and only zoom in when needed and just as quickly zoom out.  And when we are outside with our children, give place for them to explore and discover on their own.  Let’s not badger them with questions or facts, or “educational moments.” Let’s let the wonder and awe of creation in all its profound intricacy and majesty, work its magic on us and our children.

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My porthole on the Queen Mary

To have the sense of creative activity is the great happiness and the great proof of being alive. –Matthew Arnold

Dear Readers,

Matthew Henry–a 19th century author, literary critic and cultural reformer, talked about the importance of true education being the purveyor of “sweetness and light”.  He strongly believed that the best education had the power to inculcate beauty, generosity, and virtue into the culture.  Well, I had the rare opportunity to attend a conference that I think exemplifies the best of this notion! I am so excited to share with those who might not know about a wonderful new (well, young might be more accurate) movement of home schooling mamas committed to raising wild and free children!  I was blessed by the founder, Ainsley Arment (www.bewildandfree.org ) with a ticket to attend their most recent event in Long Beach on the Queen Mary.  This historic ship was a truly appropriate venue as these ladies love history and love teaching history to their children through the power of good books! Ainsley Arment has had the brilliant vision to bring together a group of her favorite bloggers and IG mamas who exemplify her view of what education should look like when we infuse it with beauty, art, music, literature and nature!  Her efforts have culminated in an amazing community of strong, intelligent, artistic, and joy-filled women.  I felt so blessed  to spend a weekend with these precious people!

 Jodi Mockabee

Jodi Mockabee

I had the privilege of getting to hear Jodi Mockabee (jodimockabee.com) who I first met when she was a tiny baby being bounced on her daddy’s knee.  To see her speaking to this crowd of 400 ladies with such calm and humility was one of those “full circle” moments in life. Her grandfather and father were both our pastors for 15 years–in the wonderful community that was The Chapel in the Pines.  Over two decades later, Jodi is a devoted mother to her five and she shared about the power of good books and the power of the words we speak in our homes to each other.

I also had the wonderful privilege of getting to hear Sarah Mackenzie live and in person!  Sarah had kindly done a podcast

Sarah Mackenzie with the beautiful woodwork of the Queen Mary in the background.

Sarah Mackenzie with the beautiful woodwork of the Queen Mary in the background.

with me back in September (which you can access here) but to get to meet her bubbly self in person, laugh and share this sweet event together was a treat.  Her presentation focused on seeing the beauty in the small unexpected moments in life.  The beauty of Sarah is that when she speaks, you know she right there “in the trenches” of motherhood andimgres home schooling with you.  If you’re not familiar with her book, Teaching from Rest, you should check out a copy!  It is a breath of fresh air in our harried worlds!  I’ve felt a real refreshing of grace and perspective reading her book!

Finally, the other personal treat for me was hearing from my friend, Emily Waechtler, (bluecorduroy.com) who lives here in my community and who spoke alongside her

Emily Waechtler and Toni Weber

Emily Waechtler and Toni Weber

friend, Toni Weber (www.homeschoolingbyheart.com)  Both are mamas home schooling their children, and both are committed to giving their children the freedom to explore through their education the power of good books, the beauty of nature, and the rewards of self-directed learning.  Their presentations were humble, kind, and full of the gentle spirit they strive to incorporate into their homes each day.

I was amazed at the calm, cool, and collected Ainsley Arment, who not only put on this very successful event, but did so with grace, humor, and generosity, all while bouncing her little Millie on her hip! So, readers, if you ever get an opportunity to attend a Wild and Free event, don’t miss out!  You can also subscribe to their beautiful publications that will inspire you to incorporate more beauty into your days–they certainly have done that for me!  You will be blessed, encouraged, inspired and enriched however you interact with these interesting, alive, and passionate women!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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