As parents, we are a child’s first teacher and perhaps, the most impressionable one. We often hear that children “don’t arrive with a users manual”. And that’s a good thing! Who wants to stick to a given set of rules to raise their child? Every family is different, as is every child. A child is not your mini-me….they are their own person, an in-process being finding their own place in the world. However, as parents, it is our responsibility and goal to guide them to become HAPPY adults. “Happy” is all encompassing in finding love, achieving success and experiencing fulfillment. These are all unique to each individual. Along with all the basic things we teach our children, including becoming functioning and contributing members to society, there are additional things we can teach them. It is the trifecta of raising an environmentally conscious child.
Gardening, Cooking, and Meditation
Gardening is an essential skill for everyone to learn. There is immense satisfaction to be gained in having the knowledge and ability to grow your own food. To tend a garden and establish a connection to the Earth and seasons is a rewarding experience. Gardening isn’t just about foods, it also includes non-edible plants and trees. Trees are vital to our own survival…teach children the value in planting and nurturing trees. Composting is a fascinating concept to many children. There are many options available to make good use of left-over plant based kitchen scraps and garden clean-up materials. If you don’t have a yard, some plants can be grown indoors as long as they have access to sunlight. Also, many larger cities are now working towards providing community gardens.
Whether it’s preserving or preparing….when you have a garden, you need to learn how to use the food you are growing. Most kids enjoy cooking. The beauty of this is that when children are learning to cook, they are also practicing skills such as math and a little science, as well. If following a recipe, they are also reading. Learning to prepare your own foods is a healthy choice and cost effective. It’s empowering to know exactly what the ingredients are in the foods you are eating and even more so if they were grown in your own garden! When you grow your own foods you don’t have to visit the grocery store as often and will most likely purchase less prepackaged processed foods. Less packaging means less waste to our landfills.
Meditation…many view this as a religious practice. You can, if you feel it is so. However, prayer and meditation are very similar-you need to choose what suits your spiritual (or lack of) belief system. Meditation is about finding peace within oneself. There is no set way to meditate…you don’t need to sit in a certain way, chant, take classes or listen to an audio. You simply need to do what feels correct for yourself. In teaching children meditation we teach them to focus and connect with themselves. In being grounded we find clarity and purpose. Qualities that not only children need to possess, but adults as well.
“If every 8 year old is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.” –Dalai Lama
I am not sure if meditation can eliminate world violence, but it can help each individual to achieve peace within themselves. Peace does begin with one person and perhaps this is the way to spread the message. I also believe that we can teach children meditation at a much younger age.
While the three of these may seem to be separate, they are in all actuality, very connected. When we garden, we are also meditating and in turn we are also prepping food. The beauty of all this is in the idea that even if it’s something you as a parent aren’t participating in at the current time, it is never too late to begin. Additionally, if you are not sure how to garden, meditate or even cook, what a better way to learn than through teaching your children.