When people think of spiders they do not always visualize a cozy home setting.  This week we will be talking about spiders and starting conversations about our homes.  For some of you the thought of a spider is unpleasant or uncomfortable.  Your child will pick up on that feeling.  If possible you can have someone else be the person that shares spiders (or anything that makes you feel uncomfortable) with your child.  My daughter-in-law has worked really hard to teach Zoe and Ansel about spiders and that they need to be careful with them even though she is scared of them herself. 

With the spider we will be talking about their webs and how a web is a home for a spider. We will talk about other homes for animals – nests, holes, caves, etc. As we talk about homes for animals we will talk about our homes and where people live.

When my sons were younger we had several pets that are not the typical pets.  They were allergic to dogs and birds, Curt is allergic to cats and it made me sad to see fish die so we had a tarantula, an iguana, gerbils, a hedgehog and a turtle.   Having pets is a way to teach children responsibility and empathy for living creatures.  Showing them how to “touch gently” whether it be a plant or an animal teaches them to be careful with living things.  If your family doesn’t have a pet your child can nurture a plant.  A way to teach responsibility is to let them feed the family pet or water a plant.  They can care for something and feel quite proud of their ability to take care of something that is alive.

How can you help your child develop that empathy for living creatures?  You can give them an opportunity to care for something.  Giving them something to care for will help them develop a variety of skills. 

Not only do pets provide children with entertainment and affection, but they also teach them about responsibility, compassion, trust, coping with loss, respect, and loyalty, and they help build children’s self-esteem, patience, and social skills 

If you don’t have the energy to have a pet — and it is a lot of energy to have a pet whether it is a dog, cat or snail — taking care of a plant develops several of the same traits as a pet animal.  They can also develop compassion for animals in the world by watching them, talking about where they live and caring for them by setting out feeders.  On your hikes in the woods you can teach them the importance of caring for all of nature. I loved going on hikes with the boys and having conversations about the trees — What kind of tree is it?  How old is the tree? Who lives in the tree?  What can we do to take care of the trees? Learning to respect all living things is an amazing gift you can give your child.

As you take your nature walks this week show your child the webs outside. An early morning walk, with the dew on the webs,  is a perfect time for finding spider webs. The dew drops will highlight the webs in the gardens and make it easier for the children to see them.  

It is also a good time to look for nests in the trees now that the leaves have fallen. Ask your child where he/she thinks the birds live during the winter.

You can ask them where they think the  spiders go when it is cold. 

We will be talking about homes for animals, and people, during the next few weeks.

~Teacher Janice