Nature: Another tool to teach empathy

“Teach kids about nature and you teach them how to nurture.” Stephen Ritz

It has been a long time since I posted.  The busyness of summer got me out of the routine.  Which was exactly what I needed.

Summer was full of new experiences and adventures for me and my family. We tried to spend as much time outdoors as we could. Loosing track of time and delighting in all the hugs and kisses.

I looked for opportunities to expose my kids to nature through:

planting container gardens

nature walks

fishing

helping at a community garden

visiting our local zoo and bird refuge 

Picking apples for local food pantries

They were fascinated by every experience.  It forced me to slow down, and really live in the moment.  And it opened the door for countless “teachable moments” and “life lessons.”

I remember one particular moment when we were planting seeds.  My son was forcefully pushing the seeds deep into the ground. I had to stop him and explain the proper way to care for a seed.  With practice, his approach softened and he in turn taught his brother what he had learned.

In retrospect, I realized what a powerful tool nature can be in teaching children kindness, gentleness and empathy.

With out little garden, when the seeds we planted grew, we rejoiced.  When our pumpkin vine withered away, we were saddened. We were invested in their growth.  The same way I hope that they will be invested in the growth of those in our community.

I have to believe that the lessons learned will carry over to their “real relationships”.

My toddler has been asking questions like “Who is kill? To explain I bring it down to his level and talk about when bugs are hurt and they can’t move.  Really powerful life lessons can be gleaned from nature if we take the time to look.