This is my son Charlie. Or rather, these are his feet. And this is what they look like most days when I pick him up from school.
I despair at these feet. Every night they need scrubbing. The dirt never goes away from under his toenails. Stubbed toes constantly need tending to. People frown at us in the supermarket when we dash in for milk and bread after school. Grandparents shake their heads.
Frankly, these feet can be a pain in the neck.
But then I remember that these feet say:
- I played
- I climbed
- I dug
- I built cubbies
- I walked in the bush
- I paddled in the creek
- I hunted for frogs
- I jumped in puddles
- I made potions
- I felt the mud between my toes
- I felt the earth beneath my feet
- I had adventures
- I was cool, and comfortable
- I was allowed to be me
- I had a great time
I love that Charlie can spend his primary schooling in an environment that takes play very seriously, and recognises that learning isn't something that is confined to a classroom. In a rapidly changing world, where our children are spending less time playing freely outdoors and more time indoors and in structured activities this is truly a gift.
So I buy more soap, and put up with the feet.
(I feel the need to add that Charlie does have to take shoes to school, and does have to put them on his feet during the winter months and when he goes on bushwalks. Much to his disgust.)
You might also be interested in reading:
Barefootin' from Moving Smart
WA kids told to get barefoot, dirty and wet to make better adults
Why not let them go barefoot from Nature's Child
If you'd like to find out more about Progressive Education, this article by Alfie Kohn is a great place to start.
If you'd like to find out more about Progressive Education in Australia, AAPAE is the place to visit.
For a list of Progressive Schools in Australia click here.