Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Gentle Learning: Avoiding Overstimulation

I was asked to expand on this one, and as I am not tackling my list in order, here goes ...

I added this to my list with only the vaguest ideas of what I meant by overstimulation. On one level it is the obvious things - too much stuff and too much screen time. Even though I think I am fairly selective with toys the number can easily snowball - already I can see this happening with Little Cherub, as it did with her sisters. I'm not sure whether I need to be more selective, or simply to be careful to rotate toys so that the number available at any one time is limited. Probably both. I do rotate things already to some extent, but find that extra stuff easily drifts out and doesn't get put away again. I have always limited screen time for little ones, but even so it is easy for more TV / DVD time to creep in. And Little Cherub is already intrigued by the computer. Arguably any screen time is overstimulating for a toddler or pre-schooler. I'm not sure I would go this far - or maybe I just don't want to? - but I do see a need to keep it within narrow limits.

On the wider level, I easily fall into the trap of too much. Trying to do too much, rushing around too much, and cramming in one thing after another. Avoiding overstimulation means slowing down, taking time to smell the roses and kick the leaves. Time just to be, without constantly moving to the next thing. I also want to achieve a quieter, calmer atmosphere. Our family is loud - vociferous and argumentative, with a tendency for everyone to talk at once. Loudly. I'm sure quiet and calm needs to start with me, and I'm not good at it.

I see avoiding overstimulation not just as a negative thing, but as something that opens up a positive way. It should allow the creation of what I think Charlotte Mason means by atmosphere when she talks of education as "an atmosphere, a discipline, a life" ... a calm space within which learning is as natural as breathing.

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