Grow With Me

Maria Montessori believed that there is a fundamental connection to nature that is possessed by all humans but is most pronounced in the young child. In Montessori schools we work to nurture that relationship and help children form a deep respect for nature that they can carry with them through adulthood. This is very easy for programs with space and land. It is a lot more challenging for urban schools, though it is certainly not impossible.

The same is true for urban families. Our opportunities to connect with nature are diminished by our relative proximity to the natural world. However, there is still a lot that we can do to help our children connect to nature whether we live in a condo downtown or a farm in the countryside. Spending time outdoors and developing an understanding of the interconnectedness of all things on this Earth is a wonderful learning opportunity for your child as well as a wonderful opportunity for your family to bond. Fortunately we live in Colorado, a state that fosters a connection with nature. Skiing, camping, and hiking are a few of the wonderful ways for us to teach our children to value the natural world, but they aren’t the only ways. Below are my top tips for connecting with your child by connecting to nature:

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Observe the Outdoors

From the earliest stages of development children show great interest in observing nature. If the weather is beautiful, go outside with them without an agenda other than seeing nature. If you tend to go to a certain park to play, I encourage you to pick a different place that your child doesn’t associate with “playground time.” Instead, find somewhere new with interesting trees and flowers or possibly a pond. Describe what you see, hear, smell, and feel if your child is showing interest in having conversation. If your child is staying silent, I encourage you to do the same. Follow their lead in the nature exploration and intervene only when safety is an issue. Just take the time to “be” in the outdoors with your child.

 

Experience the Weather

This one is hard for me. Although I have lived in Colorado my whole life, I really dislike being cold. If you are like me, I have good news for you! Porches, balconies, and windows all present wonderful opportunities to sit with your child and quietly observe or describe what you see. For those of you who like being out in the weather… go play! Fly a kite, splash in a puddle, catch snowflakes on your mittens, do whatever it is that brings you joy when you are out in the weather and share it with your child.

 

Sprout a Pit Together

                Pit fruit is a downright magical way to help your child see and understand the miracle of a hard, wood-like seed turning into a soft, delicate sprout. Mangoes work well for this experiment. Enjoy a mango with your child. Discuss the skin and the flesh using the most descriptive language you can muster. Have your child help you scrub all of the remaining fruit from the pit with a rough sponge. Lay the pit to dry on a paper towel for roughly twenty-four hours (this prevents rotting). Wrap the pit in several moist paper towels and slip it into a plastic bag. Place the plastic bag in a cool, dark place such as a kitchen drawer. Pull it out and check on it about every five days. Eventually a sprout with leaves will pop out! You can transplant it into soil in a pot and see if you can make a tree!

Give Your Child Space to Grow

We are fortunate enough to have a large yard and garden at our house. Because we have so much space we give our daughter a 4’ x 8’ garden plot in which she is allowed to plant whatever she chooses. I have been amazed at how well the plants in her garden do and how excited she is about what she grows. If you don’t have a whole garden bed to give up, try giving your children a corner of a garden or even a large pot on a porch. Let them choose what they want to plant and teach them how to care for it. Model for them by growing and caring for fruits and vegetables yourself. Observe the flowers closely to help your children know how to witness the amazing process of a flower becoming a fruit.

 

When your children feel connected to nature, they will become more connected to themselves. When you spend time connecting with nature with your child, you will become more connected to one another. Nature is a wonderful place in which to build lifelong family memories. Let’s get out there together!

 

“The child who has felt a strong love for his surroundings and for all living creatures…gives us reason to hope that humanity can develop in a new direction.”  –Maria Montessori

 

 

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~ by vegucationmama on June 7, 2014.

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