What is being learned, exactly, when your kids walk with you on a trail in the woods?
What are they gaining when they lie on their backs on the trampoline, looking at the sky?
What’s educational about visiting Disneyland or the zoo with an annual pass?
Is there educational benefit to meandering through a farmer’s market or picnicking by a pond?
I remember days of enchantment. There was the afternoon my girls made fairies out of fabric and pipe cleaners. They created little houses out of leaves and sticks, and then planted the fairies in their homes in the nooks and crannies of tree branches and bushes.
Our little homeschool brood took trips to the art museum so frequently, each child had a favorite painting. The quiet, the color, the high ceilings, the Chihuly chandelier, the post cards in the gift shop… magical.
In those outings and experiences, time moved molasses slow, deliberately, peacefully (for the most part), with pleasure and focus.
And yet…were these outings, these experiences ‘educational’?
I’m certainly not the first home educator to strip an event of magic through ‘adding information.’
Fairies? Here’s a book about the history of fairies. The act of making little houses isn’t enough. We need information to legitimize the craft. Let’s read, narrate, and discuss fairies, and then write about it.
The woods? Shouldn’t we pluck wild flowers (by name) or make bark tracings or compare birds to a field guide? We walk quietly, together. Is pleasure and fresh air enough? Surely not! Here—use these binoculars, draw this tree, note the temperature in your notebook.
Sometimes the most sacred moments in our days with our children
show no outward educational value.
We can’t quantify them. Books and records ruin the spirit—the shared purpose, invisible, intangible, yet felt by all.
The enchanted education.
Collect these moments like treasures.
Set them on a shelf in your heart—the time you all soaked your tennis shoes in the tide pools; the trip to the frozen yogurt stand that led to sitting side-by-side on a wall in the sunshine, licking; the weekly visit to the zoo where the lions and tigers nearly became your family pets.
You can’t say or know what is being learned. You know it by heart, by feel, by love, by pleasure, by shared memory.
These little wisps of attentive focus without an intended program lay the rails for so much learning that is by the book. It’s just that you won’t always see the correlation—because this is a work happening on the interior, person by person, connection to connection, created through peace.
The threads of happiness and opportunity, creativity and exposure in outings and long stretches of focused attention forge connections, invisible to you. Education results.
The Enchanted Education. Trust it.
For more about an Enchanted Education, watch this broadcast:
Top Image by Mikael Leppa (cc cropped, tinted, text added)