Hiking is a popular activity for us. We enjoy field trips that allow us to wander through fields and forests. On glorious summer days it is not unusual for us to spend hours in parks and ‘wild’ places investigating and making discoveries. We’ve explored every part of our neighbourhood and experienced the changes through the seasons.
Still, in September when we were faced with a daily trip to the school to pick up a Kindergarten child I was a little apprehensive. We cover several kilometres on many of our excursions so distance wasn’t my concern – time was. I was worried that the children would be bored – following the same route day after day could become mundane. Bored children can be cranky, disruptive children.
On our journeys I usually encourage the children to explore, take their time, and wander off the trail to examine things that interest them. This daily jaunt wouldn’t allow for that. Whenever the school is our destination I have the children follow a specific route as ‘training’ in preparation for grade one when they may be walking this route alone.
So, every day for two months now, we have been making the daily trek to the school and I have made some interesting observations. The children are not bored and they do not complain. I don’t try to amuse them – they make up their own games. They are imaginative and observant. They notice things like ‘the broken truck’ which is always parked in the same spot and when it isn’t there they notice that too.
They count crows and squirrels along the way and compare whether they saw more or less than the day before. They say hello to the people we meet along the way – the joggers, and dog walkers, and mailman – getting to know the people in our neighbourhood. They try to ‘swallow the wind’ and notice the temperature difference when we are in the shadow of a building.
They sing songs and chant in rhythm with their steps – repeating a single phrase over and over until another object attracts their interest and they change the chant to reflect that. “We are walking down the street. We are walking down the street. I see a white car. I see a white car. Did you hear the train whistle? Did you hear the train whistle?” It goes on and on.
They are definitely not bored. Maybe they were at first but boredom enables creativity making everyday tasks into exciting adventures. They are not relying on me to entertain them – they are learning math, music, independence, survival skills and much more.