I have written about our experience of snow boarding quite extensively in my Fish Tank Mom blog and now I want to share my perspective on the learning aspect of this experience for us.  It has been a team building experience for us, we have learned a variety of basic miscellaneous skills, we have pushed our comfort levels in regards to socialization and we have reviewed lots of safety/stranger safety stuff.  For some background go to http://fishtankmom.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/the-journey-back-to-snowboarding-we-got-the-bug/

This has been a great bonding and connecting experience for us.  It has also been excellent for teamwork skill building.  Everybody has given support and encouragement to each other.  My oldest Paul and his younger brother Sam have taken on the role of coaching the youngest two.  Damon has become a little more focused on the activity at hand and Alexi is chugging along with excellence.  The boys have learned the importance of sticking together, using kind words and practicing patience.  We’ve all had to communicate about where we are going next and we’ve all had to negotiate to get what we want.  This activity has ramped up the coming together aspect of having four boys.  It is to everybody’s advantage to avoid resistance and to find agreeable solutions so that we can get on with riding – QUICKLY.

We have touched on a variety of basic learning such as reading maps, real snow vs. man-made snow,  temperature and how it affects snow and really endless other miscellaneous things including math.  The map reading aspect is pretty basic as we have been on some pretty small hills and so I suppose we will have to hit the bigger mountains more often to keep the challenge up on this one (so sad).  Observing snow and discussing the snow has been fun – soon we will have to do dome web site research on the man-made vs natural – as of now we simply notice that it feels different. Weather affecting the snow is obvious but still they do “cover” it in school – with books and assignments.  The miscellaneous is simply because we have great conversations on every ride back up the mountain.  We do not always have these conversations when we are so busy at home.  Math again is pretty simple but the little ones have been counting towers but also noticing the numbers on towers and the numbers on the back of chairs.  The older boys have played around with estimating how many chairs in total, how many towers in total as well they have estimated time and briefly touched on km and distance.  Okay well I tried to squeeze the km and distance thing in and they resisted.  Funny how learning that is unintentional is more interested than learning that is forced.

Socialization and independence are not really issues in our house as the boys are all very open and social.  However chatting with neighbors and people at the park is quite different from sitting on a chair lift for that ride up.  That can be awkward and is always different.  The boys have told delightful stories about conversations with a large variety of different people.  They have also been exposed to and talked about those times when they’ve sat on the chair in awkward silence but then also the comfortable silence.  In case you are wondering – all this chair activity is at the smaller hill COP where they are free to ride without the brothers.  That hill is a one chair hill.  I love this socialization because it is with a with a variety of ages, race, and personality.  As well it is socialization outside of the circle of who we have chosen to have in our lives.

We’ve had many conversations about stranger safety and I am a big believer in trusting that vibe.  Most strangers are okay but when you get that bad feeling trust it.  My biggest safety message is never go off alone with a stranger and never accept candy or treats from a stranger.  Chatting on the hill and in the chair lift is completely wonderful – we just do not go off with that stranger after the fact.  If somebody wants to be alone with you – that is simply creepy and unsafe.

I almost forgot one of the most important things these boys are learning on the hill.  They are learning that some days are bad ski days and it is not always tangible the “whys and how’s” of what makes a bad day.  We are working on turning those bad days into short-lived bad moments by acknowledging the negativity but then turning it around.  I coach a lot about how the next run might be better, after lunch might be better, this might not be your day and that is okay next day might be your day.  In between I get frustrated but my main message is “life can get like that”.  The snow can suck and you might fall a lot on certain days – just another day around the corner though.  The boys have learned that they can stay stuck and angry or they can move on and trust that the kinks will work themselves out.

I love natural learning through snowboarding – we are having so much fun while getting that glorious sun on our faces, lots of fresh air and tons of exercise.  The boys can be competitive within themselves and later they can choose to compete if they want.  It is such a great sport because their will never be that pressure and it will always be fun no matter how they choose to approach it.

Life is good!

We are so focused on teaching our kids to be good students so that they will have opportunities.  I think we forget to let them be so they can dream, imagine and tap into their great wisdom.  We need to trust that when we let them be they will become opportunity makers and a great gift to this world.

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One of my many experiences in school was being a young woman – searching for answers to life and so then very distracted by my wonderings in class time.  I was plain and simply a “seeker” and my teachers and parents plain and simply thought I was a “slacker”.  So I was labeled “smart but not working to my full potential”.  How many of you had that on your report card?

Below is an example of a moment of wisdom, clarity and inspiration that came in my stillness.  I was actually doing the dishes and had to drop everything – dry my hands and write.  I wrote 3 separate short stories in 2 hours and the stories just rolled off my pencil.  I love that feeling.

It started out with this very small wisdom that kept going round and round in my head:

“Through my darkest days shone the brightest angels and in my cloudiest mornings the sun broke through.  Always and no matter how long in between – things always got better and better keeps on getting better.  Mysterious forms came out of nowhere – in thought and otherwise as persons in my life.  Sometimes they vanished as quickly as they came but they always left a mark and I am grateful for them all.”

This is what happened to me over and over my entire childhood but especially in my teens.  I believe strongly that I am one of many and I wish that our world would catch up and realize that these people – these “seekers” have so much to offer but they are beaten down in a system that thinks it knows better.  As adults we look up to these people but we do not consider that our children did not have to get lost first – then get old to find their way back.

So if you are like me – remember who you are and show up strong and wild.  Bring your gifts.  If you have a child like me – listen hard and do not quiet and busy that beautiful mind.

Learning this big stuff is so much more important than the three R’s.

“PERSONS attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot – BY ORDER OF THE AUTHOR” – Mark Twain, front matter to Huckleberry Finn

I came across this quote and it affirms some of my thoughts about the Language Arts program and the dissection of books that my children read.  I would align in LA but for this reason “no”.  For the sake of determining “comprehension”  we bit the crap out of books.

As an adult and specifically I ask those of you who love to read – do you analyze and break down all of the components of the books you read or do you enjoy and let them take you away?  If we want to create life long readers – why do we do this in our schools?  I can understand for the sake of writing but why so early when they are only getting into the skill of reading.  Why not let them enjoy?

All beautiful creations and art – including great literature happens naturally through creative minds.  I think we would have better literature by some of those great creative people if we did not label them and turn them off at such an early age.