The buzz…

All Shapes of the World

By Kate Phillips - Mini Maestros Rowville/Upwey/Upper Ferntree Gully Franchisee

"Look at us! Governed by squares and rectangles!”

This was a comment made to me by my friend at a recent social event. As I looked around, I saw how right she was. Nearly every person there had a phone, laptop, iPad or tablet, the TV was on, and one strange person was just gazing out the window. There was not much conversation going on. Squares and rectangles.

What concerned me even more, was the level at which the children in the room were involved in this technological domination. Some were playing Minecraft, one was selecting music from an iPod, and one was on her Nintendo DS. There was not much childish chatter going on. Squares and rectangles.

Having three girls of my own, I have always tried to get them outside as much as possible, and have tried to discourage or limit the amount of hours spent in front of a screen, with varying degrees of success.

Pondering this phenomenon, I resolved to do something outdoors and nature-ish with my girls at the next opportunity. We went for a walk through our nearby nature reserve, and being quite a warm day, we found the creek, and had a bit of a splash.

The change that overcame my children was a wonder to behold.

Suddenly, pre-teen grunts and petty squabbles became giggles, “Oooh’s" and “Aah’s” and “Hey come and look at this!” rang out through the air. As I watched and got involved in what they were doing, it dawned on me, that this is actually who we are. We are explorers, creators, discoverers and listeners, and we have a connection with the land and the world which technology has largely snuffed out. We made balls of clay, played “Pooh-sticks” and chased our stick down the river to see who would win. We tore the strips of falling bark off the trees and made little boats, We watched the butterflies and tried to guess if they liked water or not. We laughed when we heard the birds singing what sounded like a song we knew. We explored, we created, we discovered, and we noticed our land and listened to its music.

As a Mini Maestros teacher, I am very conscious of the level of involvement even the youngest children have in technology. Many times, I’ve have had to retrieve my iPod from the hands of a toddler who seems to know exactly how to use it!

We do lots of nature-themed activities in our Mini Maestros classes, and my favourite is the “I Hear Thunder” with our 2-year-olds. We bang on the drum making thunder noises, then pitter-patter very lightly with our fingers to make the rain sound. We also swoosh our hands over the surface of the drum to make a windy sound. It never fails to amaze me how this activity stays with them. Even in a 4-year-old class recently, I had a little boy say “STOP banging everyone, I’m doing the rain now!”

Technology certainly has its place, but I’m always amazed at how, somehow, when we connect with nature, and see it through the eyes of our children, we are permitted to become more like who we actually are meant to be - quiet, raucous, inquisitive, playful, thoughtful...us. Our world has a music of its own, and when we pause to listen, notice and play, we are permitted to connect with each other and our world in a very meaningful way. Let’s just remember to keep the squares and rectangles in their place, and explore ALL the shapes of the world.

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