Raising a Wild Child

A few weeks ago I was browsing the new book shelf at my local library (my favorite shelf, btw) and I came across the book, How to Raise a Wild Child. It’s written by Dr. Scott the Paleontologist (from Dinosaur Train). But, that’s not why I picked it up…I was quite intrigued by the title and while I think my boys are wild enough, I’m always interested in reading about how to help them become their own people while still respecting their surroundings. In fact, as I was checking it out, one of our local librarians commented that I could probably write the book…I’m not sure if that was a compliment or a criticism!

Our blooming Scarlet Hibiscus, a native Florida plant.

Our Scarlet Hibiscus, a native Florida plant which finally bloomed a few days ago!

As a big fan of Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods, I found a kindred spirit in Sampson’s book. His purpose is to foster a love of the outdoors within our children…and ourselves. Since it’s been almost nine years since I’ve read Louv’s book, I was happy to get a refresher – especially since we aren’t nearly as outdoors-oriented as I would like us to be.

Yet, as I was reading the book, I realized that we are doing many of the things that Sampson recommends. Since it’s blazing hot here right now, we aren’t “out” all that much, but we do a lot of observing. Last year, as part of my youngest son’s project, we planted a butterfly garden in our front yard, which is quite accessible from our large, air-conditioned front window. The kids will often sit – if only for a few minutes – and watch what’s going on outside. We have a family of bunnies that like to venture out in the morning and the hummingbirds are quite attracted to some of our nectar plants as well. Unwittingly, we had created a “sit place,” just like he mentions in the book.

Adding a butterfly garden - August 2014

Adding a butterfly garden – August 2014

We are also gardeners and compost our food waste, but I would like for us to have a better understanding of how connected we are to the the outside world. And, so this is the area that I am choosing to work on from the recommendations in this book. There are so many fabulous ideas and suggestions that you could become overwhelmed before even starting. So, I’m choosing one (especially since I’m not quite ready to allow them to explore the woods on their own).

I want to increase the attention that we pay to our “sit place.” Sampson recommends that we ask lots of questions and help our children to put themselves in the place of an animal that we observe. This is the one tiny step that I will implement in our home…inviting my children to sit with me and observe together. I will be asking more questions as to why the birds make so much noise in the morning and wondering why we’ve seen so many more snakes in our yard lately. Wish me luck!




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