Nature Based Unschooling in Costa Rica

It doesn’t matter where I take these two, they will always invent and immerse themselves in a project within minutes. Daddy loves to play and keep busy just as much as Little Cat, and together they have come up with some spectacular creations.

On our recent backpacking trip to Costa Rica we spent A LOT of time at some very beautiful beaches. On this particular day we found ourselves on a gorgeous beach, covered in driftwood of all shapes and sizes which had been washed down the rivers during the rainy season and had now been washed ashore, covering the beach in all directions. Before I had even put down my bag, these two had scouted out a little pool of water and were eyeing up the space with critical appraisal. Then, to work! LC began carving out a trench, digging with his hands, scooping piles of wet sand to transfer to a mound. They went off together to collect pieces of wood that had to be just right, climbing over rocks to get the bits they needed, spotting crabs and birds along the way. They worked together in perfect harmony for nearly an hour before proudly unveiling their masterpiece.

I know a lot of people worry about if they have what it takes to take the reins on their child’s education, they worry about teaching and how to ensure their child learns enough. But in each and every task they do, there can be found endless opportunities to learn. Here are some of the “lessons” Little Cat was exposed to during this one single project:

  • After asking how the driftwood got on to the beach and why it was there, we had a discussion on how the wood gets washed down the river, how the river is connected to the sea, a talk about the tides and a discussion about how the heavy rain affects the rivers. We just answered his questions as he thought of them, in a simple way that he could grasp, mindful not to overwhelm him with more information than he asked for.
  • He observed the crabs for several minutes, watching them move and use their claws. He didn’t have any questions at the time, but later asked about why they ran sideways, just as he was falling asleep.
  • Physical development – He climbed, carried, balanced, he ran, squatted and slid.
  • Hand eye coordination – He observed as Daddy carefully balanced each piece of wood, and attempted to copy his movements.
  • Counting.
  • Planning and hypothesising.
  • Language and communication.
  • Teamwork.

And not only did he soak up the learning like a sponge, but he enjoyed every minute and spent quality time with his parents. The next day when we arrived at the beach to find the castle washed away, he couldn’t wait to get started on creating a new one, full of confidence as he recalled the steps they had taken the previous day.

What a wonderful way to learn!




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