We, my sister the children she babysits, a friend of hers the children she babysits, myself and my children, visited the Falls of the Ohio yesterday. There were three adults and fourteen children. They love to explore the fossils, fish, tadpoles, spiders, and water. What they enjoy the most is the trail that leads to the creek bed. There are so many fallen trees, branches, and climbing opportunities. It seems that since they were much younger they have always been motivated to either try to damn the water or to build a bridge over the water. Yesterday, they built a bridge. It takes lots, of time, engineering (of some type), team work to locate the right size logs (or break them to the correct size), and skill, to drop the logs into the correct positions. The real test is when they take turns walking across the bridge, wondering if it will hold or not.
It’s amazing to me how often they build bridges to cross places. Of course as children they jump the creek, lots of times they walk through it, but they truly embrace the challenge to build a bridge across it. As my sister, friend, and I sat up the hill from them watching and listening to them dervive a plan and witness failures, successes, and much laughter, we lamented how many children are never given this opportunity. The opportunity to be outside, around other children, without a real plan other than exploration. The ability to think creatively and work together to build something that no one planned ahead of time. Children’s minds are filled with endless creativity but we only witness it when they are given the opportunity to engage it. Our children need more free time outside with friends and neighbors, away from tv, video games, and phones. They need time to walk through the woods and explore nature, to dream up new ideas, and to simply play together. I know our world has changed but our children’s minds still yearn to be creative.
Today, think about giving your children the opportunity to build their own bridge outside in the woods with their friends. Give them the freedom to release their creative side.