Sunday, August 19, 2012

Raising a Green Child

Raising a “green” child is actually not as much of a challenge as I thought it might be. Yes, he is currently only going on seven months of age, nowhere near “I want what the other kids have” territory, yet I feel we have gotten off to a positive start. This start is already increasing the neural connections necessary for growth and learning for our son. First, we have provided a routine during which he says, “Good morning” and “Goodnight” to the sky, grass, birds, breeze and flowers. He sits outside each morning while we play ‘I spy’ and ‘I hear’ to identify the different sights and sounds in nature. And, we get ready for bed by taking a walk through a wooded path and around a beautifully rural campus. These early imprints of nature will bring about a greater respect and awe of nature for our sweet son. What we have found as well is that he genuinely enjoys nature. And, why wouldn’t he? He himself is a part of nature, the rhythm of life. He has grown during his own seasons thus far and will continue on as he develops through the winters and springs of his life. Children have an innate curiosity for and love of nature. When our son stepped his little toes into the enormity of the ocean for the first time, he was overwhelmed by its mass. By the third time, he understood the peace and pace of the ocean waves and dug his teeny toes in the sand as if to ground himself in this special place. He looked out at the water with a smile. Our son reaches out to plants to touch the leaves, laughs when his feet are placed in the dewy grass, and gasps in delight at the sunlight dappling his hands when we look out the window. This joy of nature is inborn. This joy of nature can grow as our children grow. As long as we nurture their curiosity, safely, then they can explore and have fun in their natural surroundings. A child who spends hours digging up sand to build a sandcastle has learned and interacted much more with his environment than a child who has spent hours passively watching the television. What child doesn’t love to lay on a blanket at night to look up at and name the constellations? Again, this love of nature is innate. Our plans with our son as he grows is to: plant a garden and harvest the vegetables, pick pumpkins this Fall, learn how to swim, go camping, hike through the forest, bicycle and feel the breeze in our hair, be nature explorers, and so much more! What is more natural than simply following the lead of our children’s love of “green” learning?!