Explaining Evolution to Children
One morning earlier this year my daughter asked me what evolution was. I assume she heard my husband and I discussing the topic and became curious. I paused at the question and thought about how to explain it in terms she could understand. I don’t even understand evolution completely because it’s a new explanation of life to me even though I’m almost 30 years old. I quickly thought about how I could break down something that seems so complex to me in a way that she understands it. Basically, evolution can be defined as development of something – a series of changes and improvements. OH! Her birthday is coming up…I’ll use that!
I explained that about 7 years earlier she started out as a little egg. Over weeks and months she was going through different stages until she was ready to be born and survive without the help of my body. Then she could begin to change even more. I explained at a year old she had evolved into a one year old. She was capable of walking and communicating better than she had as an infant. I kept building on it and explaining the things that had changed and how she had continued to become more and more independent. She understood very well and we kind of agreed that every year we were celebrating a year of evolution when we celebrate her birthday. She was ecstatic about the explanation and was satisfied with the examples I had given her.
Just last week she was reading one of the best books a kid can read, in my opinion – The Magic School Bus. In this particular book they were talking about microbes in the air and how they change. I about fell out of the chair when she piped up and said “Germs evolve Mom! How awesome is that?” Please understand my excitement, when I was seven I didn’t even know the word evolution much less have the ability to pick up on it when I was reading for fun. I had never embraced the possibility that I was a walking example of science. I once argued with a wonderful science teacher about the big bang theory and got thrown out of his class; the only time I had ever had such an experience in school.
I’ll admit, I am very proud to know that my kids have had the opportunity to arrive at their own conclusion. I feel it is the duty of us, as parents, to answer questions honestly and present evidence of the facts in terms children can understand. I wasn’t provided such an opportunity. I was spoon fed religion from the beginning. I wasn’t allowed to look at the evidence and make my own conclusions. The Bible was the explanation to everything in life and we were not to question it. I urge you to encourage your children to question things. Offer them evidence and allow them to arrive at their own conclusions. They may not end up with the same opinion as you do which is also okay. All you can do is present the evidence. They’ll ask more questions if they don’t understand. Be patient and be prepared for their little minds to process the details.
I look forward to posting more experiences as a mother who is a free thinker. If there are any particular topics you’d like me to share with you feel free to comment with such inquiries. I’m new to this type of parenting myself so I may not have the answer for you but I’ll do my best to research it and get back with you.
I wish everyone a safe and Happy Thanksgiving. May your homes be filled with family and friends who enrich your lives and offer great conversation!