The Essential Nature of Child Spirit

84This article explores the spiritual nature of children, a profound and significant aspect of being human, gracefully present from birth. The most divine form of human life arrives in the smallest of packages-a newborn babe. As these tiny beings enter the world in a flurry of commotion and anticipation, a spirit is also reborn among us. They come to us with open hearts and pure souls, exuding a spiritual essence that belies their fragile and vulnerable nature.

What is Childhood Spirituality?

The term as well as the concept of “spirit” is elusive. It no longer exclusively pertains to religious beliefs, learned values, or cognitive conceptions. Rather, it is the holistic experience of the human being, both physical and nonphysical, as well as allusion to a Higher Power or universal energetic presence. Spirit is the life force, the essence of our being as well as the essence of all things. Spirit manifests in human beings as cosmic memory, collective knowing, unconditional love, intuition and creativity – it is the universal energetic which creates existence, experience, the material world, and consciousness. The embodiment of the human spirit is present and active from birth, and is uniquely energetic in children.

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Studying Nature Through Observation

Young boy exploring nature in a meadow with a magnifying glass looking for insects

Environmental science is a multi-discipline subject covering aspects of physics, chemistry, biology, soil science, geology, geography, ecology and more. Environmental science can be summarised as the study of our natural environment and its interactions, including the impact of humans on that environment. So, how do you study nature? There are so many topics and subtopics to consider that everyone can usually identify some aspect of environmental science that is of interest to them.

Let us begin with children – they have a natural curiosity which should be encouraged along with respect for their environment and living creatures. There can be a steep learning curve e.g. you pull a cat’s tail often enough and it will scratch you, likewise stick your hand in a beehive or ants nest and you’ll likely be stung or bitten! Also, children can be cruel by accident – they will gently pick up a butterfly or ladybird to show you and unfortunately damage its wings so it then can’t fly. So, perhaps teaching children how to study nature through observation is the way forward. You can learn a lot about nature by sitting and watching, especially in a garden, park, by a river or down at the coast. So arm yourself and your kids with a container and a magnifying lens and off you go on nature walks. Handy items to take with you are a notepad and pen for making sketches, writing notes etc of the animals or plants that you see. A nature study book is useful too, in order to teach children how to use keys to identify different species.

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Discipline Strengths and Problems For Nature-Smart Children

82Discipline isn’t a huge problem for most nature-smart children. Their behavior probably depends on which other intelligence strengths they rely on. Nature-smart children think in patterns and are usually able to compare and contrast easily.

Nature-smart children usually enjoy collecting things according to shape, design, and texture. There may be times when this becomes a problem. Have you had students who insist on lining up all their crayons in a certain way? Do they organize and reorganize their books and folders? Do they seem to get distracted by the texture of their sweater? Do they prefer pens with a certain texture?

These habits and preferences aren’t necessarily “bad.” They can become a problem when they’re taken to the extreme or they interfere with children’s abilities to concentrate. Perhaps understanding their root in their nature-smart strengths will help you talk with kids about their behavior and your concerns.

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Nature Versus Nurture Debate and Children

81I must admit it really saddens me when I hear a parent saying their child is like them or a particular relative, if the child cannot perform a task or do a specific thing. You know what I mean? ‘I was never any good at maths and so little Johnny will also not be good at math. That explains his poor math grades and the fact that he cannot remember his times tables.’

How untrue this is. There are many explanations as to why a child cannot do a given task or activity and most of the time it is not down to nurture more a case of nature. What is nature versus nurture debate? This debate argues that humans behave in a certain way due to environmental factors (nurture) whilst other scientist believe it is due to genetics or our animal instincts (nature). I believe it is a combination of both.

However, given the right resources most children can do most activities and learn all topics of a given subject. It is a matter of how they are nurtured to learn and not if they can ever learn it. If a family member constantly states that a child is unable to do a given task – due to the nature of that child and some genetic dysfunction, then it just becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. Most children are intelligent enough to understand these conversations and the connotations of them. Basically, they know it means that they are not expected to do well and so what is the point of trying as, ‘if Dad can’t do it, how can I possibly do it?’

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