We know that parenthood is an adventure. We have no idea what is in front of us, and are constantly navigating, setting and resetting our course. Part of the adventure includes figuring out how the other facets of our lives fit alongside the parenting portion—especially our jobs outside the home if we have one, and our relationships.
I became an independent consultant when I was pregnant to find flexibility in my life that could allow me to be a parent and work on my terms. But I also went on my own to create something new in strengthening education for children: I want to help kids bring the outdoors and hands-on learning into their educational experience.
Kids need more than only learning inside with paper and pencil—kids need to be engaged and interacting with the world around them. And learning outdoors has the added benefit of being active and being in nature—two things that help people live healthy lives.
So I took it on the road—to Denver! I went to the Green Schools National Conference to network and learn more about what people nationwide are doing to help kids learn about their world and have fun doing so. I learned a ton about what is happening in the Green Schools Movement—a grassroots effort that is now finally getting national traction. The Green Schools Movement is not just about having eco-friendly green buildings—although this is certainly a large and necessary component. Research shows that children learn better in clean, healthy buildings that are safe in all manners of air quality, light, ability to eat healthy meals and ability to have active time throughout the day.
Even further, the Green Schools Movement is about giving children the opportunity to understand their environment and humans’ interactions with it. It provides opportunities for students to develop skills in all subject matter areas, in accordance with state standards, while learning content that is focused on the environment and preserving and protecting it. Students – children – are positioned to be leaders in their own learning and community.
I also was reminded that it’s OK to marvel at things and to be excited. It’s all right to exchange a comment with a stranger, to make the world a little smaller. It is OK to say a blessing of thanks upon embarking. It is fine to get emotional as the plane takes off, and admire the beauty of the nation’s capital from the air as it falls away under the wing. It’s OK to smile because you have uninterrupted time to spend on your laptop, and not feel guilty that you are missing out on time with your child. It is nice to be easy on yourself.
As a parent and as a mom, it is OK to have an adventure that is all your own and makes you smile with glee.
After all that learning last week, I returned to attend the local NoVA Outside Green Schools Expo. From the national stage, I then plunged head first into a local showcase of Green learning efforts in Fairfax, Arlington and Alexandria Schools. I was heartened to learn about the work to build a Green education for students in our area. And, I wish there were more hours in a day to put into place all the ideas I created. Stay tuned – I am pumped!