This past fall, I continued getting outside afterschool with children who participate in King Street Center's Afterschool Excellence program. Once/week we met for outdoor exploration in the neighborhood...and a bit farther!
This is our second year working with King Street, and each time we go out with the kids is always fun and definitely the best part of my week, but this session just felt magical. On our first day together back in September, I told the group about Audubon and let them know that our goal is to go outside every week. I asked them what things they would be interested in doing and they came up with the following list:1. CLIMB A MOUNTAIN!! (this was shouted)
2. Red Rocks park!
3. Oakledge Park!
4. Go Fishing!
5. Nature Photography!
6. Play at the park!
Unfortunately, it is difficult to climb a mountain when you only have one hour after school, but I promised to lead a hike in the summer that they could all come on and suggested instead that they come to the Green Mountain Audubon Center to explore where I work. They decided that was an ok substitution.
And so, we did! And that is what was different this time. I gave them the space to decide what to do and helped facilitate, but this was their time to get outside and play. Child-led inquiry and learning outdoors is the difference between "What should we do?" and "Can we light the fire?" Of COURSE their awesome staff were outside with us every step of the way and OF COURSE we talked about how to safely light a match and when, but then THEY DID. We got to this point because of mutual respect- I let them have ownership of our time and promised to follow-through with their requests. I realized that I needed to step out of their way to make the most of the time we had. I am so grateful for their trust in me, because I had an awesome fall and am so looking forward to next spring.
Take a look at all we did. A special shout-out to Fish and Wildlife's Let's Go Fishing program and Chuck the volunteer who took us fishing!