Nature & Life Lessons

Oct 10, 2021
Butterfly on flower

There are two big life lessons that nature can teach children without you even trying.  And here they are:


Lesson #1 - Where do babies come from?

Have you been asked the question “where do babies come from?” If children are immersed in nature, they naturally observe the process that leads to the answer to this question.  When kids spend time in nature, they are able to experience pollination, watch birds maintain their nests, and see how caterpillars hatch from eggs and turn into butterflies.  So when they become curious about where babies come from, we can ground these conversations in the experiences they’ve had in nature.  We can make connections between the types of animals that lay eggs (amphibians and reptiles) and those that give birth to live babies (mammals) and explain in simple or more elaborate terms, where human babies come from.

  

Lesson # 2 - What happens when we die?

When children observe life in nature over time, they gain the understanding that life is not everlasting.  Everything in nature experiences a life cycle that may be long or short.  When things die in nature, they are often consumed by the earth.  Culturally, we have different practices and beliefs about what happens when we as humans die.  We can use nature as a guide to begin explaining both the physical aspects of what happens (especially if children have observed decay) and introduce our own cultural or religious ideas about it as well.

Life Lessons Learned:

 We recently experienced both of these questions with my children when we discovered that one of the butterflies that hatched late into the summer had passed away in our patio.  I shared the story in our newsletter, which you can sign up for here: Montessori Newsletter - Stay in Touch.  I’ll also share the story again here incase you missed it:

One of the butterflies we found earlier in the summer hatched much later than the others and flew way up in our screened patio to a spot where we couldn’t reach it.  After trying for some time, we decided that when it was time for the butterfly to find some nectar, it would make its way down to the potted flowers and then we’d be able to release it.  Well, that didn’t happen.  Instead, we found the butterfly on the patio floor several days later with part of its wing broken.  We are not sure what happened and were saddened that this beautiful butterfly’s life ended so soon and abruptly.

So we decided to return the butterfly back to the earth.  My son and daughter used sticks to dig a small hole and we placed it in the ground and covered it with the loose dirt.  My daughter collected sticks and flowers to decorate it while my son went to find additional dirt with his dump truck.  They both said a few words to wish the butterfly well.

We were sad to say goodbye to the butterfly, but at the same time, I appreciated the opportunity for my children to experience how we can honor life in a  special way when we experience the passing of a loved one. 

I often share how important it is to spend time in nature with kids.  It cultivates a sense of belonging to a greater world, one in which we are all interconnected. 

Speaking of being interconnected, I am thankful for each and every one of you that has connected with me over the years, or the last few weeks or more recently over the last few days.  As parents, we are part of a greater community and we have one common goal: to help our children learn & grow to reach their full potential.  If this resonates with you, then you are exactly in the right place and I am thankful we connected.

Thanks for reading.  Looking forward to connecting with you next time.

Alicia D. 
Founder, TeachLearnMontessori.org

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