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Whatever, Mom 

Learning from the mother of all mothers

She's the quintessential matriarch... the wisest old owl... the strongest of guardians... And with about four and a half billion years of relevant experience under her belt, I'd say she's worth our attention.

Mother Nature—the ultimate teacher. We'd be foolish not to acknowledge (and apply) her lessons. In fact, it's probably one of the most beneficial things we can do as parents. And here's why...

Survival: Mother Nature teaches us to adapt and survive. And our kiddos? Well, according to David Sloan Wilson, an esteemed professor of biology and anthropology, they're biologically prepared to learn. "The drives and proclivities that characterize children everywhere are well-designed by natural selection," Wilson says, "to help children survive during childhood and prepare for adulthood."

Patience: If anyone knows a thing or two about patience, it's Mother Nature. Yes, it's true—to every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. Learning to respect this concept is an invaluable lesson.

Respect: Take care of the Earth and it will take care of you. Appreciate its beauty, and protect each piece of its magnificence.

Selflessness: If you've never read The Giving Tree, now would be a good time.

Independence: Freedom in nature has quite the tendency to inspire creative growth, self-discovery and un-coerced thought.

Curiosity: Children learn best through their senses, and what better place to explore and discover sight, sound, smell, taste and touch than in the motherland itself?

Health: There's something so powerful about natural healing—not only in its physical form of herbs and other natural remedies, but also in the way it restores emotional wellbeing. Mother Nature provides a constant center of balance—one that can be easily restored by watching a colorful sunset or sitting under a vast sky of stars. She teaches us humility, reminding us how small we really are in this big, beautiful world.

Simplicity: Simple needs, simple concepts, simple lessons—exposing children to these teachings is like allowing them to appreciate the simple beauty of an unfiltered, unedited photograph. And going back to the basics allows them to better understand this incredible circle of life.

"Let children walk with nature," John Muir said. "Let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life."

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