Parenting Course

Are we building our families on the four pillars of “too much” – too much stuff, too many choices, too much information, and too fast? The Winding Trails Parenting course provides an accessible, doable set of simple changes in a family’s life that can bring relief to stressed children and families and deepen their connection to each other. The course, which reflects both Simplicity Parenting and many other wonderful sources, consists of 6 workshops and a final celebration:

Week One: Why Simplify? 

“Simplification is about stripping away the distractions that threaten connection.” 

Kim John Payne

Within this first workshop we examine the benefits of doing the hard work of simplifying family life in order to reconnect with nature and each other.

Week Two: Transforming the Home Environment

Within this workshop we examine both the impact having too much stuff has on children and families and the benefits of having and consuming less. We discuss strategies on how to declutter and clear out excessive toys, books, and clothes, and how to take a critical look at cultural pressures, advertising, and marketing. As Mary Pipher said, “Stories told by the media induce children to want good things instead of good lives.”

Week Three: Family Rituals, Rhythms and Celebrations

In the third workshop we take a look at the daily, weekly, and seasonal rhythms within the home. Discussions include a reflection on favorite memories from childhood (family rituals, celebrations, family vacations, etc), creating special family rhythms and rituals, and how to smooth out trouble areas within our days and weeks.

“Meaning hides in repetition: we do this every day or every week because it matters. We are connected by this thing we do together. We matter to one another. In the tapestry of childhood, what stands out is not the splashy, blow-out trip to Disneyland but the common threads that run throughout and repeat: the family dinners, nature walks, reading together at bedtime, Saturday morning pancakes.” 

—Kim John Payne, page 98, Simplicity Parenting

Week Four: Time, Creativity, and Over-scheduling

This workshop examines the impact over scheduling has on children and families. Parents take a critical look at their family’s typical weekly schedule and discuss the impact over-scheduling and the lack of free play has on child development. This gathering also includes the benefits of boredom and how to conduct boredom training with children.

Week Five: Technology and the Media

In “Technology and the Media” we examine the impact excessive screen use and media exposure has on children. Parents calculate the amount of time their children spend with screen technology and take a critical look at how much is necessary. This workshop also takes a look at the impact age inappropriate media has on a child’s development and wellbeing.

“Children come to know a tree by peeling its bark, climbing its branches, sitting under its shade, jumping into its piled-up leaves. Just as important, these firsthand experiences are enveloped by feelings and associations–muscles being used, sun warming the skin, blossoms scenting the air. The computer cannot even approximate any of this.”    –Lowell Monke, The Human Touch

IMG_2807Week Six: Children & Nature

The final workshop examines the importance regular free time in nature has on a child’s health and wellbeing. We also spend time discussing common barriers, tips and techniques for taking children outside in all whether, how to incorporate nature into the home (both inside and outside), as well as other useful resources. The gathering concludes with designing ways to incorporate more nature into family life.

Final Celebration

The final celebration gives parents an opportunity to celebrate the changes they have made and develop deeper friendships with others in the class, with the hope of creating a strong support network. The final celebration includes the entire family and takes place outdoors at a park with a kid-friendly trail where families can share a meal together, enjoy a group hike, and socialize while their children play in nature.


  • Your home with space and time for childhood—and with time for each other every day.
  • Your home as a place where play and exploration are allowed and honored.
  • Your child being able to live deeply into the “now” of play, rather than often eyeing what is next.
  • The opportunities for connection and moments of pause increasing as daily and weekly rhythms take hold.
  • Your family’s sense of identity growing as you share beloved activities and rituals together.
  • What your child can do with the occasional gift of boredom.
  • What can develop when a child has time to dream: the joys of anticipation and a greater depth of meaning and feeling.
  • What a lifelong gift you give by gently insisting on, and modeling, the importance of down-time and balance in daily life.
  • How human engagement and connection with nature —rather than “entertainment”—will feed your children’s imagination and enrich their play.
  • A nature rich future where we live in harmony with the natural world and recognize the restorative power time in nature has on our soul.

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