Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Penguins, Snow Leopards, Swans and a Polar Bear

We went to the Central Park Zoo in mid-June, with a close friend. The zoos get crowded during the summer in NYC, so I wanted to be sure LC enjoyed the calm zoo. LC is inspired by nature, in terms of her artwork...and has many questions about animals.

During this visit to the zoo, we saw lines drawn on the ground to indicate an animal's jumping distance and (by jumping from one line...until she finally reached the next line) LC learned that it takes seven LC jumps to equal one snow leopard jump (they jump about 20 feet vertically, much longer horizontally). She also observed penguins, swans, a polar bear etc. and she told us many facts about their behavior.

As I mentioned before, I believe in experiential learning (learning from direct experience), at the child's own pace and following her interests. I don't believe children under the age of 7 should be learning by rote memorization...with worksheets, textbooks, homework and constant quizzes. The high percentage of school-age kids feeling stressed out (with grades, tests, homework and school in well as being overscheduled in terms of activities outside of school) is a concern to me - there's no need to rush a young child into a structured academic environment and risk dealing with a depressed child who is burnt out on studying a few years later...and rarely enjoys researching and learning anything on her own when she grows up. If I had to use one word to describe LC's attitude toward learning right now, I would say she is joyful.