Honoring Mother Earth

The celebration of Earth Day can help our children understand their place in the circle of life.

BY: Mimi Doe

 

"If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in."

-Rachel Carson, naturalist and author

Trusting that all life is connected gives our children meaning in a complex and confusing world. It grounds them when they feel tossed and battered by external events. A marvelous and available way to educate children to the purposes of living things is to expose them to nature. Earth Day, celebrated on April 22, is a wonderful occasion to begin.



Children come to us with their senses already turned on. They explore a caterpillar by touching it gently against their cheek, trying to find its eyes, sniffing it to see if it has a smell. All we need to do is expose them to more of the great outdoors and encourage their exploration and "at-oneness" with living creatures. It all sounds great, but it's not that simple. As children's days become full of plans, classes, school, and friendships, they slowly drift away from their rich relationship with nature. I was approached during the break of a recent talk I gave by a mother of three who yearned for her kids to maintain their connection with the natural world. She said, "I always took my kids to the playground, on hikes in the woods, or just outside to play with the dog. Now there is no time for them to be outdoors unless it's in organized sports."



Here are some ways to reinforce children's connections to nature and the earth:



  • Create your own Earth Day ritual. You and your child might write a letter to Mother Earth, pledging to do one special activity to help her. If possible, use the back of a piece of abandoned birch bark or on recycled newsprint. Take a hike together and find a place in nature that feels powerful for you, then pause and write your letter there.

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