We are very fortunate to be involved in the running of a family run lodge in Lesotho. We are able to spend school holidays there, where our children can be one with nature. During the holidays, we had friends join us for an overnight pony trek. The children rode on horses, whilst the adults hiked. Having recently become a proud owner of a Clamber Club Franchise, I couldn’t help but constantly be aware of all the wonderful sensory opportunities my children were receiving, whilst on this trek. Everything that I teach my moms in the baby classes I run, became so real to me as I was hiking, and watching my children learning through this movement.
The vestibular input from bouncing up and down on the horses, the continual use of their core muscles keeping them in an upright position for 7 hours each way.
The proprioceptive input, the older children received from getting on and off the horse at tea time stops, and occasionally pulling their horses when they needed to stretch their legs, as well as the bending and straightening of their legs as the horses occasionally trot – also promoting wonderful balance.
The indigenous Wormwood and Ouhout bushes that give off a wonderful smell, is so stimulating to the sense of smell. For those adults who tried to sleep late, the smell of the early morning coffee being made, assisted in getting them out of their tents.
The sense of sight, as around every corner, down and up every hill, there is something new to observe. At night, lying under the stars before going to bed, identifying some of the common constellations, promoting visual figure ground.
The sounds of the cattle bells, the neighing, mooing, bleating, barking all stimulating the auditory sense and it became quite clear that my youngest son was discriminating between sounds, when every now and then, in the distance, a cattle bell would ring and he’d say “Mommy, a cow!” The sound of the river running close to the campsite. The sounds of the herdboys in the morning, bringing their cattle past the campsite for their early morning grazing.
New tastes and flavours of camping food that we would not normally eat at home, as well as the taste of natural spring water collected straight from underground.
The stimulation of the tactile sense as the boys clambered over rocks in the river catching frogs – the sensations of the cold water, the rough rocks, the slimy frogs. The cool breeze in the evening, as well as the warmth around the camp fire.
The list is endless.
In this day and age, where life is so fast paced and the pressures on children can seem very overwhelming, I feel it is a wonderful privilege to get back to nature as much as possible and let nature and it’s endless beauty take the pressure off us as parents, and do the stimulation for us once in a while.
Contributed by Debbie Deutschmann from Clamber Club Babies – Westdene Bloemfontein