Heartmoor Farm Education Centre
Family Life Enrichment Blog

to support and inspire parents creating a vibrant, nurturing home environment for children

Joyful Belonging: Nature and Children

These two entities are being talked about in education circles; thankfully more and more people are recognizing the value of a child’s connection with nature for her whole development. Nature’s rhythms are comforting and grounding to the human nervous system. A child in nature can breathe deeply, her heartbeat can attune to the surroundings. There is a general invitation to explore, wander, and watch. Nature invites stillness and the attitude of reverence can be developed. Her orientation to herself and others, as well as within the environment is refined.

It is important to ask, how can children have access to nature, its sounds, and textures? Can all of the child’s senses be employed to experience the natural environments of life: to feel sun, wind, rain, and snow? Gardening is being done in many schools, children are being given the chance to plant seeds, dig in the earth, find worms, harvest food, and prepare it for sharing with others. What experiences can your child have at home that offer time in nature?

In this photo, a young child, just over three years old holds in her hand one of the first eggs laid by chickens on the farm. As an observer, notice the wind gently moving her hair while the sun warms her face and body. Her small hand holds the egg with care and intention. She is absolutely aware that she is holding a precious egg.

Adults oftentimes miss opportunities for children like this because we swoop in, we have the attitude that the object will break, that the child cannot control her grip. Instead consider how prime this moment is for teaching by modeling and sharing. If the child has seen you take care and hold fragile objects gingerly then she will have a reservoir of impressions, she will know how to respond when something breakable is offered.

Now look at her face. See how she sees the egg and imagine how she might be feeling when holding something so delicate. She found the egg, which only adds to how significant the experience is for this child. To be asked to take responsibility and genuinely participate in an activity that is part of your family’s life is an honor, it is a way of being seen and validated.

Her contribution was not only to look for the eggs, but when she found one or more, to gather them up and bring them inside to the kitchen where then, this food produced and gathered just outside her back door, becomes part of the family’s nourishment.

Imbedded in this image are many principles at work beyond a child’s access to nature. You might ask, what values are important in your family? In what ways are these values expressed in your family? If someone visited your home and family would that person be able to recognize these values? Which ones are dominant, which values might be brought forward to shine?

Family Life Enrichment is about your vision for your family and asking yourself questions about how your ideals can become clearly manifested. Thank you for joining me here at Heartmoor Farm Education Centre Family Life Enrichment Blog. Please visit again, and feel free to contact Elizabeth if you would like more information about creating a vibrant, nurturing home environment for children.


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Principles for Designing a Child’s Place

Let’s use this image for conversation. Here a young child, not yet three years old, rests spontaneously under a handmade small quilt, her head on a star fleeced pillow. Her rag rug of blues, peaches and pinks seems to surround her like an ebbing pool. The walls of her room are a pale blue, a soothing color especially chosen for the peaceful sense it provides. She has a nice low window with simple dress so that the sun can pour into her special space. She can operate the curtains easily, drawing them back each morning and closing them as the day ends. Her cherry wood rocking chair is perfectly fitted to her frame. The low shelf lining her wall is simple, at the right height, made of wood, and holds just a few items. There are two small framed photos, a treasure box, and a couple dolls from the near-by dollhouse resting on top. She has a wooden toolbox beneath the shelf and we can see that the electrical outlets are covered as a quiet reminder that these are not in use. The part of the bedroom we cannot see in this photo has a floor bed and a small armadio of three drawers, several shelves, and a short bar for hanging clothes. Storage of the child’s clothing needs to be at her height and a quantity that she can manage: a few shirts, two pairs of pants, night clothes, and under clothing all stored in separate drawers so that she can choose her clothing from all good options and she can stow her belongings independently. Her bed is small, a crib-size organic cotton and wool mattress resting in a handmade wooden frame. She can easily climb in and out of her bed independently. Functional independence: this early stage of child development has as its goal functional independence. How can the environment be prepared so that she can dress herself, tend to her belongings, tidy up, and most of all feel at home, at peace in her place?

In upcoming blogs there will be additional photos used as a way to illustrate guiding principles. In your home, it is your creation and when you imagine yourself to be the height of your child, look around, what do you see, is there an open path or barriers in your way of movement? Do you feel invited in or unsure how to move in the space? How we establish an environment speaks to the child and encourages certain behaviors. In a calm environment wherein each object is thoughtfully chosen, has a purpose and a place, a child knows intuitively how to proceed. She feels how special the space is and how lovingly it has been prepared. This loving preparation calls to the child for her respect and care in return. Learning to care for one’s own space is essential in the development of self-care, an other-regarding compassion and awareness, then ultimately care of the much larger shared environment of our planet.

Choosing the objects in your child’s room takes consideration. Choosing open-ended objects of natural materials beckons to the child’s desire to interact and explore. When we give children beautiful objects, we are telling her that we trust her with them. We know she can manage with a real tool, that she can take care of it, follow directions, and learn how to put it away after each use.

In a culture where there is abundance, it can be a challenge to teach a child how to take care, protect, and conserve. Keep these principles in mind as you determine what you want your child to have in her space.

  • Beauty
  • Order
  • Purpose
  • Simple, uncluttered
  • At child’s eye level

Ask what message you want the environment to communicate to the child and then assess if this has been created or not.

Thank you for joining us here at the Heartmoor Farm Education Centre Family Life Enrichment Blog. Please visit again, and feel free to contact us if you’d like more information about creating a vibrant, nurturing home environment for children.

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