Parenting Now!

Diving into Fall’s Beauty

With autumn upon us, don’t shy away from enjoying the colorful foliage with the kids.

My 20-month-old son Jasper sees his surrounding environment each day with new eyes as he grows and learns.

It is continually important to me to help him in his development by giving him opportunities to experience the outdoors in every season, even in the rainy, wet months. Children are incredibly observant creatures who have growing brains ready to be stimulated by their environment. It continues to amaze me how many times I will hear my son say “caw-caw,” indicating a bird he heard or saw that I wasn’t aware of.

Now that autumn is here, the air has a cooler quality, the light of the sun is less intense and more angled, and the smells of wood smoke, fermenting fruit and crispness fill my nose. Perhaps the most obvious of all these changes in the turning season are the trees. Here in the Northwest, our changing native trees might not be as striking as on the East Coast with their deciduous forests of brightly colored leaves. However, in the city of Eugene, we are blessed with hundreds of species of trees that make for a spectacular fall.

There are many fun activities that families can do with their children to get kids outside exploring, touching, feeling and being outdoors during the autumn months. Because the trees are such an incredible part of our landscape, here are some activities that can incorporate the life of trees into your child’s everyday experience.

The easiest activity you can do with your kids is to just go outside! Go for walks in the daytime or evening. Use all your senses to interact with the amazing environment around you. For me, it helps on these walks to turn my mind to gratitude.

Many of us associate autumn with thanksgiving, but feeling gratitude daily can actually change the brain’s chemistry to healthiness and happiness.

When you are outside, look at the trees and all that is around you and take a moment to ask your family — what are you grateful for? You may be amazed by the results.

Anna Bradley is a clinical herbalist, musician, and co-founder/Development Director of the local nonprofit Whole Earth Nature School. She and her husband, Matt, have a 20-month-old son named Jasper and live in Eugene. Parenting Now! is a nonprofit organization offering groups and workshops so that all children are raised by nurturing, skilled parents; www.parentingnow.org and 541-484-5316.