Making sense—one more post about the senses
Sunday, March 3, 2013
After a rather long detour through the four foundational senses, we will be heading back to Chapter 4 in Heaven on Earth, “Indoor Play Environments.” Sharifa does talk about some of the senses in this chapter. She speaks of the visual experience, “The watchwords for the education of the eye are simple, clear and beautiful.” Simple clear open spaces serve the child well. Knowing how important movement is, we want to provide plenty of space for movement. What a gift to give a child an abundance of time and space to play in! She also recommends simple clothes for the child, with natural fibers and without the distraction of media images.
For sound, Oppenheimer suggests that we use the natural world as our guide. When sounds in the environment are too abrasive, the ear shuts down; too much noise actually can destroy the cilia, the hairs, in our ears that allow us to distinguish finer sounds. This will also adversely affect the acquisition of language. In our world filled with machines and mechanical noise, it takes some effort to provide our child with natural sounds, the most important of which are the sounds of the voices of the people he loves.
For tactile experience, which we spoke about, too, the author recommends that we pay close attention to the child’s tactile experience of the toys and clothing we provide, as well as the household items we use regularly, like sheets, dishes, etc.
Sharifa also touches on the olfactory experience we provide our children. She writes, “Smell is strongly linked with memory and is critical to early learning. As we know, a smell can evoke an entire “gestalt” experience, a flood of memories we haven’t thought of in years. With this is mind, we can attend to our child’s sense of smell. Smells of the garden or fresh air after it rains are, of course, wonderful smells. We can also think about the household cleaners that we use and choose ones with natural ingredients. And there is nothing quite so wonderful as the smell of fresh baked bread, which leads us to the next sense, the sense of taste. I still remember the egg custard my mother would make for me when I was sick to encourage me to eat. In some cultures, food is used as medicine for body and soul. When my daughters were young, we had a small garden in the backyard, and one of their favorite things was to go out there and eat raspberries and chives (not necessarily together). Sharifa talks about the wonder of cooking with fresh herbs.
Next week we will finish talking about this chapter. The following week, which is the first week of the Spring session, I thought we would jump to Chapter 9, the last chapter of the book, “Creating your Family Culture.” This chapter talks about creating balance in your family life, including one of my favorites—the Family Star and a wonderful section entitled “Love’s other name: discipline.” If we have time, we will go back to the other chapters, but I want to be sure to have time to talk about this one. It has a lot of good stuff in it.
Reminder: If you are planning to continue into the spring session of Parent Child, and I hope you all are, please let Jenn Zielinski or me know. There is no break between the Winter and Spring sessions, but the school will be closed for Spring Break the week of April 8.