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I want to share a couple of things I’ve seen in the last few days that have made me think about how to make the boys’ environment more interesting, to allow them the joy to investigate the world more, and bring some of it back into the house!
Firstly, we went to the Natural History Museum in London last Saturday (I do not recommend Saturdays in London…), I won’t start describing the whole museum now, don’t worry… let me just say that it’s my favourite museum of all time, and the boys quite like it too. What I will talk about is the Investigate Centre they have downstairs. I had never been there before but Martin discovered it in the basement of the museum, after 30 minutes of him not re-appearing we thought it was worth checking out! The centre is primarily for schools and needs booking during the week (this is why I never knew it was there) but it was open to everyone on Saturday.
The reason everyone really enjoyed being there is that we were free to touch everything (there are a number of trays with different specimens you can pull out and examine), everything was real, and we were also free to use the microscopes, measuring and observing tools, reference books, question cards, computers and live displays (these change often), and Isaac loved walking around holding a tortoise-shell, he was inconsolable when he had to hand it back at the end. This all made me feel that I wish I had an area set up especially for this sort of thing at home (clearly not in the camper van, maybe with an RV…), at the moment we have a lot of resources but every time the boys want to do something we have to set it all up especially, there’s much collecting of things when we go to the woods or from the garden but I’m not currently very (scientifically) organised with following up on what the boys’ treasures actually are.
And the other thing that really made an impression on me was this video (thanks to my friend B for sharing it in the first place):
Bev Bos, who you can see in the video, is an acclaimed expert on child-centred preschool education. I loved the way the children’s needs and likes were the driving force behind the environment, and the outside came in and the inside went out! All the things I saw in the video are things I’m sure Isaac would love. Not that I want to send him to preschool… and in fact this particular place is a community preschool where parents also attend. I was inspired by Bev’s enthusiasm and the way the centre had evolved.
At the moment we have very little space but watching this video and spending time in a science centre both made me think of the importance of having a stimulating environment, I often pull books, toys, anything really, out and see if the boys show an interest, but this is still relatively parent driven, if everything we had was accessible, organised, and we didn’t have the worry of making a mess (we have fitted carpets at the moments, not good with small children) I think this would be very liberating indeed. All food for thought.