Toddler-led plant science

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Image credit: S. Shailes (CC BY 4.0)

Doesn’t time fly? My little baby is now a walking and talking toddler with a love of books and trains (and anything else on wheels!). Since my last post I have been busy trying to keep up with his ever-changing needs, alongside returning to part-time work and my volunteer role in Girlguiding.

I decided to leave my old job at the end of my maternity leave. I loved working for eLife, but the almost two-hour commute each way to the office no longer seemed compatible with my family life. I now do science writing and editing work on a freelance basis. This suits me really well at the moment as I can work when I like (or should I say when Sprog allows me to!).

I consider myself very fortunate to be able to spend most of my time at home looking after my son. We play games, read books (often the same ones “on repeat”), go for walks, meet friends at toddler groups or in parks, and do all sorts of silly things you don’t usually get to do as an adult (such as running around the dining table or rolling balls down a section of old drainpipe). We also do many jobs around the house together including cooking, gardening and laundry. These jobs take twice as long with my little helper and don’t always go to plan, but that’s all part of the fun, right?

I have to remind myself of these good times when one or more of us are unwell, very tired, or we are just having one of those days where even basic tasks (like getting dressed and out of the house) seem like insurmountable goals.

One of the most rewarding things about spending so much time with my son and other little people is observing how toddlers explore the world around them, often finding great joy from seemingly simple things. We have herbs growing in our garden and a few months ago I offered Sprog some herb leaves to sniff. He was captivated by the scents coming off the leaves and was keen to sniff the leaves of other plants. Weeks later, while preparing dinner in the kitchen, he picked up some basil we had just washed and sniffed it without any prompting from me.

As my son explores, he accidentally points out things that bring interesting scientific questions to my mind: how do plants produce fragrances? How do strawberries and other fruits change colour as they ripen? Why are there ants and aphids on the same branch of the apple tree? I’m going to try to harness his natural curiosity to help me write some new blog posts. Lead the way, son.

4 thoughts on “Toddler-led plant science

  1. Reading your post, I had to smile. Since becoming more interested in the natural world in the past decade (my sixties!) I’ve been allowing my natural curiosity to re-emerge, and it’s been great fun. I’m not sure when that curiosity began to be replaced by other attitudes, but life is far more interesting when we allow ourselves to explore and question.

    • 🙂 Thank you for your comment. I think that the slower pace of life I’m enjoying at the moment gives me more of a chance to see things and marvel at them. May the fun continue for us both 🙂

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