The Parent Co website had a feature last summer by Jackie Semmens who describes herself as “a writer by nature and a mother by nurture”. Jackie writes about family, nature, and the experience of motherhood at ananchoredhope.com .
Her article for Parent Co explores how to handle questions from young children about nature, and about why we encourage them to know the names of some animals. but not others, and how we tend to downplay naming plants.
Here’s a taste:
If you think about it, we already spend plenty of time teaching children the names of animals – just not ones they are likely to see. My son’s blankets are dotted with giraffes, elephants, and monkeys. They read alphabet books where P is is for Penguin and W is for Whale. They can name a dozen dinosaurs, but I am certain they will never stumble upon one in real life. The animals they do come in contact with on a day to day basis – tree sparrows, chickadees, European starlings – we tend to overlook. Because they are common place, we ignore them despite knowing little about them. Until a few years ago, I hardly even knew the names of any birds besides crows and robins. …
Whilst naming isn’t everything, it’s not nothing, and such knowledge is both a useful end in itself and a powerful stimulus for further exploration. But perhaps there are limits? Here’s what NAEE’s Chair of Trustees had to say about these difficulties in 2015 when he first heard a Cetti’s Warbler.