Why Walking to School is So Important
We’ve been looking at moving house and deciding how close to the school we actually need to be. Move further out and you get more for your money. Be within walking distance and well, you definitely get less but what you do get is difficult to put value on.
Our walk to school is perhaps my most favourite moment of the day. When it’s not fraught with chaos and shouting to get us all out the door on time, it is a walk that takes us past some of the most beautiful parts of London- narrow canals lined with house boats, tree-lined streets, green spaces and multi-coloured houses offering us all sorts of treasures along the way.
At the moment, I take my three girls to school and nursery via pram, buggy board and scooters. It’s a 15-20 minute walk and often at a brisk pace. But the thought of giving it up for a bigger place, and a commute by car, well, it just can’t be worth it.
When I think of how much learning our children get just by being in the outdoors, I’m grateful that we have this space… this time that captures the girls’ imaginations. Walks become adventures to find secret passages, the biggest leaf…seeds that look like acorns, sticks, squirrels, foxes and cats along the way litter our path. Pidgeons who raid the bins on the corner and ants, ladybugs, worms and snails that stop us to examine each and every one.
If you think about it, every moment in nature offers a different opportunity to learn and to teach our children.
I had a bee on my leg yesterday. Of course, my instinct was to flick it off but (luckily it didn’t sting me), we got the kids over to show the pollen it had stuck down its leg to carry back to its hive. Ants who march all in a row following a trail of sticky ice-cream, squirrels scurrying to and fro in the autumn trying to gather as much food as they can before winter.
My daughter even had a dead mouse left in her nursery playground! Disgusting yes, but instead of tossing it straight away, the children’s fascination led the teachers to tell them about the cats who might have caught it, why and the cycle of life.
Though I’ve not got a green thumb, I’ve appreciated the many opportunities planting and growing and maintaining greenery our children have had and continue to have both at school and elsewhere. My two year old knows how to plant a seed, dig up a potato and pull up carrots when ripe.
Physically, our walk to school offers opportunities to practice balancing along the walls, learn about traffic safety, point out tree types, birds and flowers, with the chance to pick up flowers that have fallen for craft-time later.
It’s 15 minutes of peaceful joy as we start and end each day. It’s a wind down before we get home to make dinner, finish homework, bathtime and bed. It’s short but it’s physical activity and fresh air that makes me feel less guilty at the end of the day if we’ve not had time to go to the park. And it’s a chance to talk about our days, holding each other’s hands as we go. Singing songs and laughing at each other’s knock knock jokes. I don’t always appreciate it as much as I should but when I’m faced with giving it up… I hope not.