Fire has a lot of practical applications; it can be dangerous when out of control- but it’s useful to cook food, keep warm, or bring light into darkness. Yet, most kids are kept safely away from fire, flames, matches, lighters etc. This is in part just practical, but it’s really not serving children well all the time. Caution is a good tool and so is fire.
My son lights the dinner candles with some help, but this is one of his jobs and has been for a while; he knows to use matches cautiously and wisely.
He has been my assistant in attending to a burn pile. (See picture). He spent most of his day playing in the mud created by the running hose. But he did learn that keeping water near a fire is a good idea!
Roasting marshmallows over the open fire is now a favored past time. Through playing with the placement of the roasting stick he has learned how the flames become cooler further away and hotter closer to the source. He has learned the difference between the flame and the hot air around the flame.
In the winter, he regularly helped me stoke the fire with new logs. And he always reminds me to use the fire glove. So his experiences have subconsciously (and consciously) given him the awareness about the power and heat of a flame/ fire.
And he’s four. There are age appropriate times to allow children the freedom to take on these tasks and if adults give children the chance to practice under closely supervised situations, then when a child actually really needs to use fire as a tool with independence, he (or she- don’t rob our girls from this experience!) will be able to do so cautiously.
As we head into Fourth of July and a weekend of FIREWORKS, take note of your own attitude towards teaching children about fire… not just using scare tactics, but really educating them so when the time is right- use of fire can be done safely.
Good luck and make sure to check back here soon and please comment!
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