This I Believe

Kimberly - New Salem, Massachusetts
Entered on November 15, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: children

Children Need Nature

I believe children need nature in their lives. We live on six acres of land, so nature is literally right out our back door. Yet I still find myself having to make the time to enjoy it. There are so many other demands that want to pull us away from the natural world. There’s the television, the computer, the news on the radio, errands to run, and schedules to keep. With all there is to do in a day it can be difficult to make spending time outdoors a priority, but I try to do it anyway. I believe my children need time with nature in order to develop fully as human beings.

My children learn new things from nature everyday. They have learned that they should not eat berries unless they are growing in our garden, and that getting poked in the eye with a tree branch is no fun. They have learned that it’s okay to look for bugs under rocks, as long as you put the rocks back when you are done. They have seen birds’ nests in trees, snakes slithering over rocks, and the beautiful green chrysalis of the monarch butterfly. They throw maple seeds up in the air just to watch them spiral down, and blow on milkweed pods to watch the fluffy white seeds parachute away. They search for worms in the vegetable garden, and millipedes in fallen logs. They climb trees and rocks, and pretend to camp out in the backyard. They go out in all kinds of weather, except the very coldest, and even then they would go out if I didn’t stop them.

I believe this communing with nature is one of the most important parts of their childhood. Nature can teach us about life the way nothing else can. When children see firsthand the cycles of nature, the shortening days in the fall or the burst of tree leaves in the spring, they learn that things go on, that there is a time and purpose for everything.

My grandmother passed away recently, and I have struggled with what to tell my children. How do I discuss death with them, when even I, as an adult do not understand what it means? Nature becomes my ally in these situations, because I believe it has a great deal to teach us about life and death. All of nature is not composed of warm and fuzzy moments, but those more difficult moments, like a sudden frost that takes the last of the tomatoes or the death of a beloved family member, those moments are important too. They teach us that things don’t always work out the way we’d like, and that we won’t always understand why things happen, but we can still believe there is a reason for everything. We are part of nature, and nature is part of us. My children need to hear this, to believe it, to experience it. I believe my children need time with nature to understand life.