Don’t Rush Me, I’m Learning!

We had a lovely week long vacation in Vancouver. It was so nice to get away!  We did so many cool things that only a big city can provide.  We visited The Vancouver Aquarium, walked in the rain in Stanley Park, witnessed the hustle and bustle of big city living, explored an indoor rainforest, ate delicious ethnic food, and experienced the wonders of Science World. We were lucky enough to have my amazing and awesome sister recently move to Vancouver so we had a free place to lay our heads and the hospitality of someone who loves us!

The Blodel Conservatory's indoor rainforest.


Rainy days in Stanley Park!

It was on our first day at Science world where I had another parenting revelation.

The boys were having a great time exploring all of the hands-on exhibits.  Lan, who is now 6, moved at a slower pace than Kayden, who at four still has a short attention span.  In order to have a good flow to our day Mike and I traded off being with each child so that they could explore at their own pace.  We would stay in the same exhibit space as a family but Kayden would go around in a whirlwind while Lan would spend time at each station and explore in more depth.

Then Lan discovered the water table exhibit.  It was a long structure with water being pumped through it and you could use plastic blocks and walls to damn and divert the flow of water.


I sat back to watch him play and experiment.

Twenty minutes later I was ready to move on.  I tried to divert his attention to all the other really cool things around him.  Didn’t he want to see something else now?

No, he said. He was still playing with this.

I sat down again and started to really observe not only Lan but the other children as well.

There were the younger children with their parents (and a lot with what appeared to be nannies).  They were running from station to station…sometimes because they had the same attention span as Kayden and sometimes because their parents/caregivers where ushering them on to the next thing.

Then there were the kids in daycares wearing their orange or pink vests (they looked like construction workers!) It reminded me of a tour group, all of them wearing an identifiable vest so as not to be left behind!  They were being herded through just as tour group would with only about two minutes per station.

And then there were the school age kids.  They were all easily identifiable by the sheet of paper they were carrying.  Oh, how I remember those sheets of paper!  You know the ones that you have to fill in to “prove” that you learned something.  They were running around the place looking for answers on a worksheet to get a good mark.

And then there was Lan, playing at the water table.

Why did I feel the need to rush him?  Why did I feel that we needed to see each and every exhibit?

And then I realized it was because that was all I knew.  That was how I had been trained!  I had done hundreds of those field trip worksheets in my school years.  I remember being frantic at finding all the answers with the hopes that I could find them all and still have enough time to play before getting back on the bus.  And now when I go through a place, be it Science World or a museum I find it hard to take my time.  I want to run through it and see it all quickly.

And what if I take my time and miss out on something spectacular?  We don’t want that now do we?

I let Lan play.  He was at that water table for at least an hour and he left it when he was ready.  That night when we all talked about our favourite part of the day the water table was his.

The next day we went back and he spent another hour on it.  But this time I didn’t feel the need to rush him.  I rejoiced that we had the time to let him explore something that had so obviously intrigued him.

And I wonder what lesson he would have taken with him if I had succeeded in my initial attempt to rush him.  Would it be that we always have to check to see if there is something better around the corner?  To rush through things?  To not pay attention to the present moment?

I’m glad his lesson was instead about the flow of water.

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  1. Renee says:

    The water table was Scout’s favorite thing to do at Science World as well. That place is such a zoo. Good for you for letting Lan enjoy a peaceful experience there.

    Glad you enjoyed your Vancouver visit.

    1. worldschooled says:

      Thanks Renee, we had a lovely time. I think Vancouver as a whole is a zoo and this vacation reaffirmed for me that I like small town living. Cities are great to visit but I don’t see myself ever living in one!

  2. Nadine Hudson says:

    Dear Amy
    I think that really on that day, there wasn’t a lesson for Lan at all… it was much more a lesson for you to slow down and detach yourself from the speed of life you know and the expectations you have. Just like in the paint-splashing experience… I belong to the parents who used to rush as well…. so I doubly congratulate you for having managed to just stay at the water playing area! Speed is the one thing we haven’t managed to adjust to since settling down back home. Everything seems to go very fast… All the best! Nadine

    1. worldschooled says:

      Thank you Nadine, it was definitely a lesson for me that I needed to learn. I am grateful that I had the time to sit and reflect while he was playing. Good luck in the fast lane, I am sure you are handling it very well! Much love to you!

  3. Lily says:

    Oh gosh, I recognise this experience! Not the exact same one but that sense of “But there’s this other thing to see/do/place to be…” It is lovely to see that kind of absorption in an activity and sometimes I’m quite happy to just sit and watch (or just to be present to my own experience in the moment).

    Then there are other times I am itching to move on, particularly if it’s an outdoor activity in the cold and I’ve run low on energy. Standing or sitting still on a frosty day is one of the things I find most wearing!

    That’s the great thing about this approach to our child/ren’s learning, isn’t it? We get to have our own boundaries pushed back and our perceptions challenged!

    1. worldschooled says:

      Yes! I am finding it more and more that I am seeing things differently and challenging myself to question and change. By the time they are adults I should have this parenting thing down pat!

  4. Jessica says:

    This is such a great post and a wonderful reminder for me today. I, too, have rushed my kids far too often. Thank you for helping me to remember the importance of being in the moment.

    1. worldschooled says:

      You are welcome Jessica, glad I could give you the reminder!

  5. Christina @Interest-Led says:

    I really, really enjoyed reading this post. I can really understand where you’re coming from. It’s hard, especially when you’re visiting a place where you might not come back to again (like on a vacation) and you really want to “see everything.” I start to feel like I’m going to miss out on something or the kids will miss out on something. But when I’ve stopped and really looked at my kids, like you did, and saw how much they were learning and how great this was for their attention span, it really helped me to relax. It also taught me how I could change, too. I’ve often wanted to spend a lot of time doing one thing, or staying in one section, and pushed myself along in order to “see it all.” Now I see that if I spend a lot of time just taking in a few things really well, that’s more important in the long run anyways.

    1. worldschooled says:

      I always though it would be mostly me teaching my children, but they are teaching me equally if not more!

  6. Kelly @ The Homeschool Co-op says:

    We had the exact same experience at Science World… and it was with the water table! =) I also had to stop myself. We didn’t get to see the dinosaur “featured exhibit” and missed most of the felting workshop, but lo and behold, Dylan’s favourite part – the fountain! In fact, we bought a membership, which I am very excited about, because now we can go again, and take our time, again!

    It’s funny that urge to rush. I’ve often wondered where it comes from, too, but I am fierce about protecting our “exploring time” these days. It makes our experiences so much richer.

    Love this post!

  7. Cheryl says:

    This is simply wonderful! As a child I was given all the freedom to read as I wanted, I would literally spend hours during the summer just reading away. It is great to see that more and more parents are recognizing this need of a child to explore – and to explore on their own time, with as much or as little energy as they see fit. Love it!

  8. Jill says:

    I really really to this, I’m always telling my children to slow down or hurry up. Its my own inability to sit and engagne that is at fault….

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