Fall is my favorite season. Of course, spring is a close second, when new life bursts forth in bright reawakening. But autumn magic is different. Children go back to school, and we return to predictable routines. We pack away the bathing suits and bring out the backpacks and jackets. We reflect on special summer adventures that fuel our memory bank for years to come. But most importantly, we slow down a bit as fall arrives with its shortening days. For me, the natural tendency to mimic Mather Nature’s wisdom is a wonderful gift of the autumn season.
As a parent, I joined my two sons on many walks through the woods to collect leaves, marveling at the colors and variety of shapes. We were never in a hurry, because we’d miss something beautiful if we went too fast. And as we walked, we talked. Those conversations just spilled out. We’d talk about simple things, but often, there’d be connections to bigger issues. For example, why do trees drop their leaves, looking as if they’re dead all winter? What about all those acorns on the ground? Will they become food for a hungry squirrel, or will those acorns become new trees, growing and reaching skyward like silent giants? If we came across a fallen log, with insects scurrying about in the rotten wood, that might trigger a long conversation about scavengers and food chains. Sure, plenty of science emerged, but emotional bonds were forged, too. There were no strict rules in the woods, except for being respectful of living things and not touching poison ivy. That freedom seemed to set the stage for open dialogue and meaningful sharing. Discover why it’s important to get kids outside.
If you’re a gardener like me, fall is also the time when you tuck things neatly away, preparing for next year’s harvest. With my children, we’d watch bees working feverishly to collect nectar on late-blooming cosmos flowers. We’d gather up marigold seeds, saving them to plant next spring. In pulling up tomato plants, we’d notice how big the roots were, and my kids would suddenly realize there’s much more to a plant than what’s visible on the surface. Real life lessons, don’t you think?
Without fail, whenever we’d return home from fall excursions to the pumpkin patch or treks into the forest or vegetable garden, my sons would gravitate toward crayons, pencil, and paper. Without any prompting from me, they’d draw pictures, sketch leaves, write stories, or craft poems. Then later, they’d want to show me and tell me all about what they created. Their spontaneous response was to record observations, express their delight, and share their findings in various ways. We couldn’t have asked for better science lessons and links to literacy. To dig deeper, visit Kids Gardening.
For me, autumn is a splendid time for reflection. Whether it’s shared experiences with children, or quiet moments when I’m alone, fall encourages me to take stock of what is and what might be. So, before colder winter months arrive, get out and enjoy the great outdoors with your kids. Once you cross that doorstep, surprises await you!
For further reading, here’s an interesting book, Last Child in the Woods.