28 May

How Does Your Garden Grow

Lissa Coffey

Lissa Coffey

Lissa Coffey

Children are fascinated by nature, they’re drawn to it. Why? Because that is where we come from, that is who we are – and parents can learn from that! Too often we feel disconnected with nature – we’re plugged into our computers and voice mail systems, and may not get to see the sunshine for days at a time! Enough of that… there are lots of ways that kids and parents can be true to our own nature, and appreciate the beauty of nature all around us.

We all share this planet, and we are all connected. It is wonderful to teach kids to appreciate nature, and to appreciate each other.

Many children’s stories feature animals in the lead roles. When you read to your child, this is a good time to talk about how important animals are to us, and how intelligent animals are because they are true to their own nature. Pose questions like: How do they know how to do the things they do? The same way that we know to be kind and loving, and help other people, it’s our nature.

In the story of Ferdinand the Bull, by Munro Leaf, Ferdinand loved to sit quietly and smell the flowers. He was not “bullied” into fighting like the other bulls, he was just himself, he was true to his nature.

If you have pets, you can look at their behavior as an example. Cats live in the present moment. They’re not fretting about the past or worrying about the future. That’s a good lesson that they can teach us!

Gardening, of course. Telescopes to look at the stars. Recycling. Trips to farms, ranches, forests, the beach. Visiting or volunteering at an animal shelter. Take a cue from what interests your child and head in that direction: whales, monkeys, exotic flowers, pine trees, insects, planets, wolves, whatever it happens to be… “nature” covers a lot of territory!

At the Santa Barbara zoo, there is a program called “Foster Feeders” where you can “adopt” an animal for the price of food for one year. I adopted two fruit bats for my sons one year, they named them (Donatello and Raphael after
the Ninja Turtles, you can tell we’ve had them a long time now!), and we go and visit them on weekends. They have learned a lot about bats and their contribution to nature, and have been able to pass this knowledge on to their

Some teachers have pooled class money and adopted animals as a class project. The larger the animal, the more it costs generally, depending on what they eat. Lions cost more than elephants! The class studies the animal, and the teacher works the lessons in to other subjects, art, geography, science, etc. It’s all connected!


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