Introducing Our Children to Nature


I was doing laundry the other day and while I was taking clothes out of the dryer, I noticed that several white pieces of clothing were stained with reddish dots.  It didn’t take me long to discover that the stains were from rose hips.  Turns out, my youngest thought he would be a sweetheart and collect me some rose hips.  He put a nice handful in his pocket and then forgot about them.

I am still finding old rose hips in the dryer.  I just keep picking them out and putting them on top of the dryer in a big, growing pile.  When I look at that pile of freshly washed-and-dried rose hips, I can’t help but smile.  I can’t help but smile when I find a pile of violets or henbit on the living room rug after hearing the door slam 100 times and wondering what they are up to.  I can’t help but smile when I overhear my oldest refer to plants as “medicine.”   That’s all they know when it comes to medicine.  Sure, we have had to (rarely) take the odd antibiotic – it can’t always be avoided.  But when it comes to treating viruses and most issues, I usually try to treat them with what I have; I treat it with what nature gave us.

We just got back from a walk in our woods today.  It became a teaching experience.  We were looking for mushrooms and found some on a dead log.  I explained to them that a lot of mushrooms like dead trees and you can usually find a lot of neat mushrooms on them.  We found some puffballs and I had them squish them.  They observed the smoke-like substance coming out of them when pressure was applied.  I explained that like plants going to seed, mushrooms produce spores and that these mushrooms were releasing spores.  They thought that was pretty neat.

I always wanted my children to love and appreciate nature.  I thought maybe I could buy them books or find interesting shows about nature for them to watch to help kindle their curiosity.  While those things can help, they obviously weren’t the key. Of course, almost without realizing it, I was able to instill a love of nature in them by simply being their mom.  I helped by taking them with me to harvest skullcap, having them collect bee balm flower heads with me, and having them taste, feel, and smell nature for themselves along the way.

So yeah…I smile when I see rose hip stains on our clothes, piles of violets on the rug, and other mysterious flowers laid out on the shelf.    This is evidence that they are curious, they are exploring nature, and they have learned a thing or two about what a gift all this really is.

Raising kids that love and appreciate the outdoors didn’t take a lot of research, lectures, worksheets, or technology (former teacher here, sorry), it took me just doing what I love most: growing medicinal plants and exploring our property to find native plants, herbs, and mushrooms to make medicine with.

Life is full of lessons.  The simplest lesson I’ve learned in a while is this: that kids don’t necessarily learn from what we SAY all the time, they learn from what we DO!



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