Autumn is harvest time. Embrace nature’s abundance...
Immersing children in the rhythm of the seasons assists their unfolding as spiritual beings in a physical world. Recognising rhythms – night and day, the seasons, lunar cycles, festivals and traditions – have become less important to us as humans. For our ancestors, these were the essence of life.
If you have not yet set up your own seasonal table or shelf, as described in previous Seasonal Fun columns, it is a wonderful way to explore the ways that our environment changes through the year; and to display works of art, items from nature and books. If you have a table, it is now time to pack some of your summer items away (don’t forget to photograph the display first) and gather items for autumn. Our world abounds with gifts in autumn, take a walk with your child to gather a variety of seeds and coloured leaves for your display and craft activities.
Nature walks can be enjoyed from babyhood. Usually, babies are calmed by watching the whisper of breeze in the leaves of a tree. From a very early age you can walk with your baby in a sling or pram to admire the wonderful things you see. Toddlers will love collecting souvenirs from nature’s playground to take home for their nature shelf or seasonal table. You should encourage this, for they are connecting with a world that is new and magical yet instinctively theirs.
Stories and poetry for autumn include those about Harvest and Easter (in the Southern Hemisphere). A favourite would be The Giant Turnip, which is told across many cultures and appears in various fairy tale books. Nature’s props bring unequalled enchantment to stories, poetry and play. Seedpods, for example, come alive as autumn fairies, cradles for seed babies or small boats to sail. Particularly for those under seven years, nourishing a child’s imagination with stories is more important and real than scientific explanations of the natural world. Nurturing a child’s wonder is how we help them lay the first stones on their path to spirituality as an adult. Stories speak to our souls.
The animals are very busy in autumn. It is time for migration and hibernation. Here in the tropics we see a variety of birds arrive for our warm winters around this time each year. Perhaps it is cooler where you live and it is time to say goodbye to some birds in your garden or park?
Craft ideas for autumn include anything with leaves (pressed leaves, leaf prints), corn husk dolls and puppets, seed pod crafts and other items created with the treasures of nature’s bounty collected on your walks. Foods like pumpkin and corn create traditional autumn meals. Perhaps you’d like to begin a tradition of a Harvest Feast? Collecting dead wood to build a fire is exciting for children, who thrive on being genuinely helpful. Perhaps you can cook on an open fire to celebrate the Equinox this month? On the Autumn Equinox there are roughly 12 hours of daylight, and 12 hours of darkness.
Family rituals are reassuring to children. The wisdom of nature makes perfect sense to our children’s instincts. I hope you are enjoying reconnecting with seasonal rhythms as you share this with your offspring.