The power of 1 peach tree
This post originally appeared in Dr. Rachel A. Larimore’s weekly Samara newsletter on September 19, 2023. If you’re interested in receiving these emails, scroll to the bottom of this page to subscribe. Please note, this post may include affiliate links. If you click through and pay for a product, Samara Early Learning will be compensated at no cost to you.
“The children were so excited to get to eat the peaches! They’ve been watching the tree for months just waiting for the right time. They saw the leaves come out, the flower, and then the fruit sloooowly growing.”
A home provider recently shared this story with me about the peach tree in her backyard. She went on to describe the pure joy the children experienced in eating the peaches they had watched for so long.
I was thrilled to hear this story because it is a prime example of learning on nature time, learning with nature, and being place-based.
Peaches don’t grow quickly. It takes years for the tree to produce fruit. Then when it does fruit it takes months to go from the first leaves of spring to a ripe fruit in late summer. Most things in nature don’t happen quickly. Most changes in nature are slow and subtle over long periods of time. This is what we call “nature time.”
One of the strengths of nature-based education is that children get to learn on nature’s time. They witness these subtle changes everyday. These changes then spark observations and questions like, “These aren’t peaches! These are green. Peaches are orange.” Then several weeks later…”There’s orange on this peach!”
By learning on nature time children are also learning with nature. In this case children experienced a green peach, asked questions about it, and then later had another experience. This back-and-forth between nature and children create experiences which lead to learning about nature in personal, meaningful ways.
When children learn with nature, children make both an emotional and intellectual connection to peaches. They now know peaches start green and slowly grow into a ripe, juicy fruit. And they also now have experienced the joy of eating a fresh, juicy peach right off the tree! These connections to peaches will stay with them much longer than if an adult had simply told them the life cycle of a peach. (Or asked them to color in a worksheet!)
Not only is the peach story a prime example of nature time and learning with nature, it’s also place-based! The children experienced this tree in their own play area–right where they are day-in and day-out. There are also other peach trees and farms in their community. In other words, peaches are part of their school community, but also the broader community where they live. On the weekend a child might go to the local peach orchard and realize, “Woah! There are way more peach trees here than we have at school.” And the value of this? Connections in and out of school helping them to build on their prior experiences to extend and refine their learning about the world around them.
That’s a lot of power in a peach, isn’t it?! And we haven’t even talked about learning about fruits with stones, different tastes, leaf shapes, insects eating the fruit, etc.
I guarantee children learned SO much more than the fact that peaches grow on trees and we can eat them! And yet even if that’s all they learned? I’d say it’s still a win for learning with nature, in local nature, and on nature’s time.
Keep changing lives,
Rachel A. Larimore, Ph.D., Chief Visionary of Samara Learning