One thing that I have learned in my wanderings with my owners is that parents don’t need to be experts in order to share the natural world with their children. Of course, it helps if those parents know a little bit, but that honestly does not matter.
I have been out on walks in the Rocky Mountains and seen all kinds of people – some clad in the latest ‘outdoor gear’ who were super fit, and others wearing clothes like they should be shopping at the local mall. I have seen some parents out enjoying the day with their children and others whose children did not look happy.
The only difference between the parents of the happy children and parents of the other children is that the parents of the happy children were genuinely enjoying being outside with their children and were curious about the world.
Some times those parents seemed to know about the natural world and other times they didn’t. The one things those parents had in common was that they were not distracted and genuinely were interested in the world around them.
Remember, the most important thing is that you get your children outdoors and you try to experience the natural world with them. You do not need to be an expert and be able to explain everything that you encounter in the natural world. Pick up a log and look at the little bugs you find under it. It doesn’t matter if you know all about the bugs that you may find there, but you can still enjoy finding and watching them with your children.
If you know what it is or can explain it to them, then go ahead and explain it to them. If not, then just share their sense of wonder and let them know that you don’t know what it is.
You can always bring along a small notebook and write down what you saw or you can use a camera to take a picture of it. Then when you return home you and your children can look at the picture and see if you can figure out what it is on the computer.
By doing this with your children, you will be teaching them invaluable lessons. First, you will teach them to have a sense of wonder about the natural world. Secondly, you will teach them that it is OK to not know all of the answers. None of us have all of the answers and it is OK for them to realize that. Finally, you will teach them how they can find the answers to their questions themselves or with your help.