There is just something about the cool weather of fall which turns our hearts and family expectations to home. I call Opelika, Alabama, my home.
I was born at Lee County Hospital, which is now East Alabama Medical Center; grew up attending Opelika City Schools; attended all the churches in our community with children and youth activities; and enjoyed growing up in participating in many family-friendly community activities.
I still reflect on the many school and community festivals and carnivals that we enjoyed each year.
At this season of my life, I make an annual fall trip to see my son and his wife in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The trip, which I have shared with readers before, is one I enjoy with the beautiful vivid colored leaves of fall, pumpkin patches with a touch of frost covering the stem and melon, and the fall breeze that we brace for with a light coat or sweater.
It is truly the calm before the winter winds of snow and ice blowing in in Michigan.
October is a month which celebrates seasonal delights such as National Apple Month. Weekend family field trips to community apple orchards to pick apples are good lessons and memory makers for children. Stopping by curb markets to allow your children to select a basket of delicious apples is another good learning experience.
I know we Baby Boomers remember the recess times that we would have at school growing up. At recess time, we could enjoy a healthy snack from home. I can still remember my big, delicious red apple that my mother would put in my backpack to enjoy and make it to lunch time. I love to share apples with preschool children. When children are eating apples, they can learn the parts of the apple, which are the skin, flesh and seeds. While cutting an apple horizontally, a star will appear in the pulp with seeds for the children to observe, count and plant.
Children also enjoy drinking apple juice and apple cider is a fall favorite. Helping them make apple sauce, baked apples or helping an adult follow a simple recipe in baking an apple pie gives them math lessons in measuring, following steps in a recipe and observing what temperature to use.
October is also recognized a National Pumpkin Month and many preschool and young children’s organizations make visits to fun pumpkin patches.
We see pumpkins being displayed in grocery stores, road market stands, arranged on tables, in art shows and fall gardens. Pumpkins serve for food and recreation purposes. We begin to eat and enjoy pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread and pumpkin spice coffees as an Autumn delight.
On Halloween, carved happy face pumpkins shine into the night to welcome trick or treaters. Pumpkins can also serve as centerpieces on Thanksgiving tables.
As we reflect on the importance of home for young children, we know that “home” has many meanings for different people in families, individuals and cultures.
For those who are world travelers, homes might involve tents, mud huts, open aired homes, homes on stilts, chalets, etc. In Lee County, we see mobile homes, apartments, condos, brick homes, wood homes, log cabins, and more. Some folks live in town, suburban areas, country, city, etc.
Even animals have different homes, such as nests for birds, forests, lakes, bays, oceans, webs for spiders, holes for moles and the list goes on and on as you are teaching young children about different homes.
Our homes should provide a place of refuge, security and peace where we can sense love and acceptance of who we are.
“Home is where the Heart Is.” This expression means so much to a child’s growth, development and life.
As we harvest fruits and vegetables in the fall, our homes can provide a harvest of wonderful developmental and life skills for our young children. Children need emotional support from the home front. The home is the perfect environment where words of encouragement and time spent with our children are the essential building blocks in their adjustment, well being and self esteem.
In learning new skills, many readiness and academic lessons can be learned at home through household chores that aid in your child’s developmental learning.
Home provides the environment in helping a child learn to get along with his or her family, as well as his or her friends.
Too, what better environment can a child realize that they have certain gifts, talents and unique personalities from the safety of their homes. Each child is unique and special. Celebrating the life of your child is so very important. A home well lived in is where a young child can feel loved, safe and happy, and to take this wonderful foundation into the world.
Deuteronomy 6:7, “The Lord guides us in teaching our children all the time about His truth in the Word of God at home. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
Beth Pinyerd has taught in the Early Childhood classroom for many years. She hold a Masters in Early Childhood Education.