Movement Mondays or Falling into Leaves

Mondays are my favorite. I jump out of bed, usually before my alarm, and I am eager to get back to my work, or my home, or my kids. The weekend is a diversion of sorts, with one dinner party followed by another, by another. Given the pandemic, it felt like there was too much partying for a weekend. On a national level, there was an enormous change in energy now that our country is led by a decent man, so I think everyone is probably hung over in some capacity. For practicing Muslims, the hung over might be from too many mawlids and dhikr sessions. That is a beautiful kind of elation, and remembrance of our Created state, and a journey back to the Creator.

Mondays are known as Movement Mondays at my house. We begin the day with the intention to get some physical movement, which is like nutrition for the body. Today, during our walk, my kids gathered a giant pile of leaves with their bare hands. They made a pile that was 3 feet high. What did they do next? They jumped in, again and again. I thought about all the plastic balls I’ve collected over the years for them to have a ball pit. Yet the level of joy in something they created with their own hands, and destroyed with their own bodies — it was a different level of happiness. Our neighborhood was lined with gold, orange, and red leaves, like the colors from a Crayola box of markers. I imagined we were walking into a rainbow itself. At one point, when the wind blew the leaves off the trees, we all chased them, trying to catch as many as we could. My little boy, almost 3 now, stuffed as many leaves as he could into the deep pockets of his cargo pants. He seemed to walk with a gait, the leaves too heavy for him to move. What a glorious moment. The greatest moment of the day, was hearing their shrieks of delight at the leaves. I saw my kids hugging the trees, and greeting them like long time friends. These are moments when homeschooling seems like a win. The goal of loving nature is manifest in a child who delights naturally in talking to trees.

Talking to trees? I would never imagine that to be a learning objective for a 5 year old. When I funded research on the importance of the early years at a national philanthropy, or sat in meetings hearing experts talk about “kindergarten readiness” I began to believe what the experts told me about developmental milestones. Now that I am removed from the philanthropic industrial complex (happily working with philanthropies and enhancing adult learning broadly), I have deepened my understanding of different methodologies of learning, and teaching. Montessori, Waldorf, and many others have changed how I view the horrific standards that we impose on young learners, and how we try to remedy the “gap” which according to science, starts in the womb.

Let the children talk to trees.

Let them jump into leaves.

Let them be.

Photo by Irina Iriser on

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