Over the past few weeks we have had a lot of rain! Tassie put on its finest show for us and we encountered a weekend of constant downpours, unable to see the Sun for days. It was during this weekend that I received a message from a Gaia’s Nest parent.
‘She’s still at it’ were the only words in the message. This was followed by a segment of photos of her 5-year-old dancing in the downpour.
This is not the first time I have received a similar message from this family. The backstory behind these messages is simple. Mieke has been gone from Gaia’s Nest for nearly a year now, yet the lessons and rituals that are embedded in our daily practice live on well after she has left us. You see, every time it rains at Gaia’s Nest, we dance in it!
This practice was never something we purposefully initiated, but something that naturally developed over the past few years. As rain comes to Gaia’s Nest we do not see a rush of bodies indoors nor hear the calls from adults to quickly get out of the rain. Instead we see the children rush to get the speaker and hear the calls for ‘Rain dance! Rain dance!’ filling the air. Children and educators alike, gather together and dance to all songs about rain. Usually, this dance session runs until the rains stop or until we are too tired. We splash, we stomp, and we celebrate the rain for all the good it brings to us.
The concept of why we need rain and where all our water comes from is often foreign knowledge to children. Many children are unaware of the originating source of things that keep them alive. Whether this be clothes, food, water or shelter, to a child, it all just magically appears for them. Out of a pipe or from a shop, they don't know the origins of it and teaching them these origins and a sense of appreciation for it is a vital aspect of ensuring the future of our planet is left in knowledgeable hands. When we are deeply connected to the seasons, we begin to understand how interconnected each aspect of nature is. Wind helps the seeds to be transported, the Sun and rain support the plants to grow and Autumn creates compost into the soil, as plants die down for the Winter, only to begin the process all over again come Spring. Within this knowledge, our children begin to understand how interconnected and delicate our ecosystems are and how important each aspect of nature is in the fragile workings of the Earth.
In addition to the deeper understanding we can give children to help them appreciate the rain, there is also another reason we celebrate it. Initially when I saw those beautiful photos full of excitement, glee and timelessness, I recalled a quote I have often seen floated around on the net.
“Encouraging a child to go outside in all-weather builds resilience, but more importantly it saves them from spending their life merely tolerating the “bad” days in favour of a handful of “good” ones. – a life of endless expectations and conditions where happiness hinges on sunshine.” - Nicolette Sowder
I don't need a study to tell you how important rain is to our environment but these days there are several studies and research being undertaken on the increases of adverse health in children’s anxiety levels. A lot of this is to do with our fast-paced society where we have so much scheduled in our days, that the slightest change or interference in that schedule can feel like the end of the world. Many of these studies are finding that one of the main causes of children's declining mental health is that children are growing up in a world that is reliant on filling each day with productivity, instead of finding happiness and joy in the small things. Phycologist Peter Grey discusses the decline in children’s free time, stating that:
“Outside of school, children spend more time than ever in settings in which they are directed, protected, catered to, ranked, judged, and rewarded by adults. In all of these settings, adults are in control, not children.”
I wonder, what happens when that control is suddenly released to the child?
Children learn from what they see and hear. Wouldn’t we rather a child influenced from an adult’s ability to be flexible and see silver linings, rather than adults who struggle to cope with the smallest nuisances or changes to their day?
So, when everything goes a little bit wrong in your day, you miss the bus and forget your lunch or your car breaks down, find the time to dance in the moment anyway, because that's what our society needs. If we as adults can teach our children to roll with the bad days and to be resilient when things don't go the way we planned, they will grow up less anxious and more durable, ready to face any challenge. Which I beleive is so vital in a society that is often overscheduled and focused on productivity.
I can’t guarantee what these children’s lives will look like in 10 or 20 years or what might befall them, however, it is my hope that by engaging in small rituals, like the celebration of rain on a ‘bad’ day, they will be supported to build up a resilience to cope with the unexpected and deal with whatever comes their way. So instead of trying to control every aspect of our lives, at the end of the day, we have to just throw off our shoes, turn on the music and dance a little in the chaos.
Above: More photos of Meike through the years as she celebrates all weather.
All of our educators will be contributors to our blog. We really enjoy our daily reflections as we revisit our days with the children and their achievements and successes. These blogs will share the stories of the children and the beauty in our days. We hope you enjoy them!