• Tricia Edgar

Joy-Led Learning

Can you find the four-leafed clover?

Yesterday I had a great walk. I walked down to the park where our elementary school children usually meet, since it was unusually quiet, using the back trails whenever possible.

I was so glad to be back in these places. One of them is a place where I run regularly in non-pandemic times. It's a place where my daughter went to school for four years in the forest. The other is a place where I have worked for almost a quarter of a century. Both are very dear to my heart.

It was joyful to be there. As the dog and I took a walk along the quiet back trails, I remembered the children sitting in the woods quietly at their sit spots. I recalled the fun I had with adults just six weeks ago now, sitting on one of the peninsulas around the lake and watching two ducks come to visit us.

I heard the frogs waking up for springtime in the little pond, and even though there were some human noises around, I could hear them quite clearly.

I saw a parent and two children climbing a log and enjoying their morning exploring/

I walked to a field where we'd met with our students last summer and took a photo for them of the four-leafed clovers that we'd found there.

Often, we talk about forest school as child-led or play-based learning, but I like to think of it as joy-led learning. As you take a walk in your neighbourhood, see if you can find a place where you and your kids can find your joy. It could be under a tree in the park where no one visits because they just walk on by. Even in our busy parks, there are usually a few quiet places to go. Or find your joy on an early morning walk around the neighbourhood.

When my daughter was younger, I was determined to go on a walk with her every day. I soon felt frustrated, as a two-year-old's "hike" is more like a two-block meander with more stopping than going. Then I started to enjoy realize that the process of discovering whatever we discovered - a puddle, an interesting leaf - was far more valuable than whatever end point I had set for the walk.

I'm trying to take the same feeling of process and slowness into my walks these days. Life isn't about accomplishment right now, it's about connecting with whatever piques my curiosity or brings me joy. I hope that you can find something that brings you and your family some joy and delight today.


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