take care of the place you call home
this is the only home
share with your neighbors
learn from your neighbors
continue to grow
Over the last couple months, I have been witness to the Farm and Forest Days Homeschool Enrichment program with the Kiva Center. I have recognized the importance in community education. Within environmental education, the appreciation of life and earth is cultivated as students learn about the value of community and the importance of respect while having the freedom to express. Creative expression and problem-solving are crucial for kids. I have come to understand the importance that outdoor education plays in creating space for kids to build these life skills.
Creative expression refers to the bounds of freedom that kids operate within, in a sense. According to Tacy Townbridge from the Adobe Blog, creative expression is “the process of redefining problems and opportunities, coming up with new, innovative responses and solutions, and then taking action.” It is the ability to have something acting as a guide, while being able to imagine and create anew. While kids still have guidance in respect and integrity they are are allowed to grow and branch in directions of possibility. There is space for each individual to exist as they come, a box is not created.
As exhibited by The Kiva Center, particularly in my last visit, the day began with the usual welcome circle followed by a story of the Iroquois people who were at odds with one another until they recognized the need to collaborate and grow. The story of the Iroquois people created the foundation for the activity. The kids were placed in teams and then had to strategize together for how to best play the game of tag while having each others’ back. I was in one group of kids and I just listened as the kids spoke of their strategy - some would be the taggers and others would be the backup who went and unfroze the ones who got tagged. This kind of cooperation between the kids was lovely in that the facilitators and lead mentors, Kasey and Garrett, just stood back and instructed the kids when to begin and the kids were able to imagine a vision for how they wanted the game to play out.
Later in the morning, the kids were told the rest of the story to meet the finality and understand the lesson embedded. The end of the story was met with the kids creating a vision for what it means to be as one. We all separated into our individual groups with distinct cardboard puzzle pieces to soon realize that all the teams had to collaborate in order to reach our end goal.
At various points during the activity, kids recognized what had to be done to complete the picture as the facilitators watched and offered encouragement along with strategic questions to spur the kids into thinking more creatively instead of asking closed-ended questions. There were moments of conflict in kids wanting to place a piece that other kids had and there were moments of realization where there shouts of ‘a-ha’ relayed their grasp and apprehension.
The last couple months have displayed the energy that comes when kids are given the environment to express. I have witnessed kids that are open to learning, but still have to be reminded of respect from time to time. I have observed students that are full to explore, navigate, and create. I have observed the value in being outdoors to engage and learn with the world around.