We all need a mental health day once in a while, even our children. In our house Halloween is not the easiest holiday with a child navigating severe food allergies, so when Big A woke with the request to wear his costume "all day" and play with Little A it seemed only appropriate to abandon the school day routine. We do not typically skip school, but on the heels of reading a powerful post about the chaos of parenting in the early years I decided this was an opportunity to be in the moment and step away from thinking "one day."
The boys have become quite engrossed in various pretend play scenarios and trains have been a big topic of discussion for some time now. Big A excitedly announced in early September his wishes to be a train conductor for Halloween, a theme that fit well with my low-budget, multi-purpose criteria when it comes to dressing up for this holiday. They have been playing with their conductor hats for almost a month, but the inaugural occasion to wear the full costume brought a Christmas morning type fever to our house. These are the moments I wish we could bottle up as parents and hold on to forever.
Every step of this adventure was incredible to watch. The boys enjoyed planning and discussing the trip, which involved selecting the station we would leave from and where we would visit. We are fortunate to have a commuter station in short driving distance from our house (15 minutes) and it so happens to be the station Daddy uses to commute to work each day. The short ten minute ride to the next station (which happened to be the end of the line) was the perfect amount of time for the boys to enjoy the trip. Once we reached our destination we were able to visit the larger station and find our way to the return train.
Throughout our journey the boys enjoyed demonstrating independence as they helped purchase tickets, boarded the train, and interacted with the conductors. Walking through the terminal they were immersed in the environment, commenting on smells, sounds, and visual stimuli (such as information boards, etc.). Their observations and comments provided an important reminder about experiential learning. Experiential learning involves stepping outside traditional academic environments and providing children with opportunities...
Once we arrived home the boys drew pictures of the trains they saw and "wrote" stories about the trains and passengers. It is amazing to observe the elements of our excursion that resonated with them. The train conductor was an obvious celebrity, but Big A commented on other passengers, how the trains work, and questioned why each station looks different. One of the best components of experiential learning is the variety of outcomes and the ability for each child to walk away with different learning outcomes. For Little A the adventure of riding a train for the first time was very much a sensory experience, while Big A's experience had him thinking critically about many aspects of our journey.
I am not sure abandoning the day's plans will become a habit in our house, but for today it was the perfect way to celebrate Halloween.
ABOUT CHRISSY K
I am mom to three boys (one with several life-threatening food allergies) who will never own too many picture books or create Pinterest-worthy snacks. Simply Chrissy K is a place to find helpful tips on parenting that stem from my work with families as an educational consultant and parenting coach.
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Based on a work at http://www.strongtots.com