Our beautiful Lebanon provides children with plenty of natural and nurturing experiences that help in their growth and development. Last weekend, I took my precious five to their father’s hometown village where we decided to spend a few days – unlike the previous times when we only completed a few visits and left. Like most of the “international” children of this generation, we work hard on having them develop that sense of love and patriotism to the countries that not only nourish, feed, and support them, but also the one country that has given them their roots and carries their family history along with it.
During those three days I did not even worry about an entertaining activity to occupy their time. I made a point to leave their iPads back in Abu Dhabi and the perfect opportunity was presented to even avoid the TV screens as well. Personally, I also enjoyed the ‘online detox’ as I eased my mind, soul, and thoughts when I decided to be disconnected and enjoy the calmness of the village. We were all experiencing the simple life which replenished our souls and allowed us to listen to our inner selves away from the chaotic and luxurious modern life.
On our way back to my parents’ house, the boys and I discussed what they enjoyed doing the most, and I felt delighted by the outcome they have experienced.
Sense of security:
The minute we arrived, I asked the boys to go on their own and knock on a few doors of relatives and friends, to inform them of our presence. I could see the surprise in their eyes so I explained to them that here they can enjoy the sense of security and explore the freedom of discovery in peace. Very early the next morning, just as they finished breakfast they directly asked if they could have a morning walk around the village. They were more than happy to discover the true freedom which every individual dreams of.
Although my children get the opportunity to discover free play on many occasions, this time they have experienced it with other children and in a new setting. As a matter of fact, undirected free play has multiple advantages:
- It helps children learn how to work collaboratively, to share, to negotiate, to resolve conflicts, and learn self-advocacy skills. It even helps them tolerate pain, ignore the blisters and cuts, and continue enjoying their play.
- It helps children practice decision-making skills, move at their own pace, discover areas of interest on their own, and ultimately engage fully in the passions they wish to pursue.
- It develops children’s imagination and self-confidence since each one of them formulates and lives in his/her own world. It also boosts their self-image seeing themselves like grownups given the freedom to roam around their village with ease.
Sense of belonging:
They understood the real meaning of what a village is; the traditions, the hospitality, and the affection amongst its people. I was more than delighted to have served in building those memories with them. When they look back, they will live those unique moments again jumping over garden beds, running through the narrow alleys, skipping over rocks, and hiding behind trees and bushes. They might never return to live there, but at least they know they have a “home” that will last forever.
I believe that children who get the chance of discovering free play are fortunate and privileged. I salute all the parents who make it a point by bringing their children from far away countries, every summer, to have them live Lebanon’s beauty and uniqueness. It is true that we are dispersed all over the world and many of us might have one or two other nationalities, but we want to keep that bond, have them cherish those memories, and make them take the advantages that Lebanon still offers to the new generations.