Cultivating a Sense of Wonder


My kids hate nature walks.  I have failed as a homeschooler.  In kindergarten, no less!  This has to be a record.

Today we went for a nature walk.  Ostensibly we were hunting for caterpillars.  Sneaky mommy was just trying to get the day’s Green Time in – studies apparently show that spending more time outdoors in nature is as effective as medication for ADHD.  We’re trying it.  So far I can only say that if he gets lots of exercise it helps.  Not sure if the whole nature bit is what’s doing it.

We were walking through a wooded section on our way to a meadow when I asked the Engineer what he saw.  “Just trees,” he said, complete with the teenage sigh and why-are-you-making-me-do-this attitude.  I started to get frustrated with him, and then I stepped back and thought about it.

Kids have a natural sense of wonder.  They oooh and aaahh at ladybugs and butterflies.  They gasp over snakes, and chortle over frogs.  How many of those same kids could independently find a ladybug or catch a frog?   How many of them even notice a butterfly, much less a snake?  You have to actually notice something to be interested by it.

Older kids have less problems with this.  They can search plants for the bugs they’re studying.  They can walk quietly enough to see the deer instead of scaring it away.  They can sneak up on a frog and catch the sucker before he jumps, and manage to hang onto him before he slithers away.

My bunch?  I don’t have to worry about snakes.  Every animal for a mile around knows we’re coming.  My brood is completely clueless to something unless it practically waves at them: “Mommy, I want to go hoooommmmee!”  Me: “why?” The Engineer: lip quivering, “a bug landed on my shirt!”

So I’m actively fostering observation.  I ask them what that sound is (bullfrog,) or what is that they smell? (honeysuckle)  We’ll stop in the patch of mud and see if there are animal tracks (another round of shoe cleaning, yay!)

My reply to “just trees?”  I told him “let me show you what I see,” and then we inspected the Jack-in-the-pulpit plant that I had spotted.  It’s a start.






  1. So great that you still take regular nature walks with your teens. I want to get back into this more. Somehow the academics have overrun us the past few years. We need to find the wonder and delight again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nature walks are great for everyone! However, I only have a five-tween – he acts like a teen but is only 5. So it’s a little easier to say “let’s go for a nature walk” and get away with it. I imagine teens might resist a bit more!


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