This photo is a picture of my daughter in front of the twelve foot sunflowers we grew in the back garden last year.
Life is what we make it. What if I told you that every day you could make a difference in the life of a child simply by exposing them to nature? You could make your life better and your child’s. I know this fact as truth – that exposing children to nature will make a difference for them – because of my own children’s reaction to the world surrounding them.
My oldest daughter, a senior in high school, became involved in an environmental class this year and spends several times a week out in a prairie or in the woods studying nature. She can identify prairie plants, talk about beneficial insects, and tell me the sounds that nature makes – more importantly, on the days she is out in nature, she comes home more cheerful and happy. Being outdoors is a mood enhancer. Simple exposure to sunlight and nature helps a young person’s brain chemicals, such as serotonin, move the way they should.
This type of energy is the type of energy we want our children to have instead of caffeine- or sugar-generated energy. It is longer lasting, healthier, and stimulates lasting memories. Bottom line; it is fun and makes the kids feel happy.
Testimony to this claim is the Sunflower garden adventure my youngest daughter and I had together this summer. One afternoon I dumped a handful of sunflower seeds in my hand and said, “will you look at that!”
“What?” said my youngest, leaning low to my hand so she could get a close-up view of the seeds.
“That!” I smile, “This is a sunflower!”
“MOMMMMM, it is not, it’s too little!” she answered incredulously.
“It will be in a few months,” I said. “Let’s go outside and plant them.” We got our old shoes on, grabbed a shovel, some popsicle sticks, and a watering can and headed out behind the fence.
Grinning, my girl and I set about digging up the ground. We laughed with each other and she asked a lot of questions about how little seeds can grow. Of course, half way through she found a few worms and I lost my digging mate, but she gained much from that experience as she sat and played on the sidewalk with the worms while I finished digging.
Finally she came and helped me plant the little seeds in the ground, placing a popsicle stick next to each seed so we would know where to water in the coming weeks.
Every other day or so we would get out in nature and spend some time talking about those seeds. We always had smiles on our face when we went out to water the little babies. Our experience together, being out in nature, was awesome for both of us, let me assure you.
Soon the flowers began to grow. One day late into summer, my little one came screaming into the house, grabbed me by the hand, and dragged me tooth and nail out to the sunflowers shouting I had to see something. When we got out to the garden, the flowers towered over twelve feet high and their heads were enormous. Neither of us could believe how big they were.
“I can’t believe it!” she said.
“Pretty big aren’t they?” I replied.
“HUUUGGGEE Mom! They’re just HUGE! Bigger’n Dad! Bigger’n a tree! I think they might be bigger’n our garage! And this big, giant flower came from our little-bitty seed, right?”
“The worms are in the ground around the seeds, so they helped too, right?”
“Let’s get the camera!”
Here is one of the sunflowers just picked early fall. It takes my daughter both arms to hold it as it’s very heavy. You can see at the very top of the flower a tiny seed – the same type of seed this flower was grown from.
There we were out in nature, gardening, laughing, taking photos of the biggest darned flowers we had ever seen. I remember every day we watered and the great feeling it gave both of us to be outside together. I remember seeing the sunflower grow inch by inch every day of the summer. And I remember the joy in the heart of my little girl when she realized how nature works together and how we helped it along. I cannot wait to do it again this year.
Isn’t that gift the gift we should be giving every child? I believe it is. Remember that life is what you make it – make it about being out in nature with your children!
Shawna Coronado says Get Healthy! Get Green! Get Community!