Many parents who are into herbalism want to naturally teach their kids to become herbal kids. While there are lots of adult resources available, there is not a lot for kids. This week I wanted to answer a question I get all the time: How can I get started in teaching my kids about herbs?
Creating herbal kids through doing
If you use herbs in your daily life, chances are your kids are already learning right alongside you. Younger children especially will naturally imitate what you do and be very accepting of the use of herbs in their everyday care and health.
Start a notebook of plants you have in your yard
Head outside with a notebook and make a list of each plant you have, starting with the common name and adding the latin name if you know it or later when you can look it up. Have your child(ren) look around and tell you what they see first. Don’t forget the trees! Even if you don’t think a plant has medicinal uses, write it down anyway. You’ll be surprised at the number of plants that are ‘just weeds’ really are medicinal. Remember, all plants have value, some are just yet undiscovered. Be sure to check back weekly to see if anything new has emerged.I have written a more in-depth article about back yard herbalism here.
Assemble a home medicine kit to replace your standard first aid kit
Begin by making a list of all the over the counter medications you currently use. Then study your list of plants growing in your back yard and cross reference…ask your child(ren): which medications can be substituted with herbs? As they learn about the herbs that are growing in your yard, they can begin making medicines to replace them with.
You might start with a few simple items such as making a salve to replace the Neosporin and perhaps a tincture of Meadowsweet or Willow Bark to replace the aspirin. As your child(ren)’s knowledge grows, they may wish to make a salve for general wounds, a salve for skin afflictions, a drawing salve and a muscle salve. Likewise, they may add tinctures for various types of headaches: skullcap, wood betony, dandelion, feverfew and so on. The key is to start simply and have them build on that knowledge.
I’ve written an article on putting together your own first aid kit here.
Start an herb garden in your back yard or in containers
Begin with a manageable amount, 10 – 12 is a good start. If you can start them from seed but if that’s not possible, head to your local nursery and let your kids help you pick out some plants. Alternatively, if you are a subscriber to HRz or plan to subscribe, check out what plants we’ll be covering over the next year and grow those to have on hand.
Check out some of Herbal Roots zine’s ebooks
If you are new to herbs, start with the basics. The top 13 simple herbs to learn about are: Chickweed, Dandelion, Calendula, Plantain, Violet, Chamomile, Elderberry, Lemon Balm, Pine, Rose, Burdock, and Cinnamon which can be purchased individually in our store. These are also the issues that are found in LearningHerbs.com’s series, Herb Fairies.If you’ve already gone through those and are looking for more inspiration, the next 13 issues I would suggest would be: Yarrow, Echinacea, Peppermint, Mullein, St. John’s Wort, Willow, Nettles, Lavender, Cleavers, Oats, Chicory, Aloe and Eucalyptus.Next week I’ll talk a bit about how to incorporate learning into your daily routine.Try out a few of these ideas (or all if you’re feeling ambitious) and let me know how you’re getting started in teaching your kids about herbs on my Facebook page.