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4 Year Old Questions Origins of Our Species

Posted by on Nov. 7, 2011 at 9:54 PM
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I don't know what to think, but I wanted to share this.  I talk a bit about my 4 year old son on here, and how he's interested in nature and the natural world.  In other words I have high hopes for him being a scientist or a naturalist one day (though he's adamant that he wants to be a "critter man" - someone who deals and disposes with animals - not my hopes and dreams but what the hell, I'm supportive.  He actually seems to know a lot about the job - when to catch and release and when to put down if the animals is of danger to people).  We've been talking about how he was born - how I had him inside of me for about 9 months and then I gave birth to him.  Yesterday he asks me how I was born.  I told him his Gram, my mom, gave birth to me.  He asks how she was born.  I told him that my grandmother, her mom, gave birth to him.  He then gets frustrated and says, "No - how did the first mom get born?"  Basically he's asking how the first  human came to be.  I was totally unprepared for this.  I always told myself that I would tell him and any of my children the truth as I saw it, but I didn't know how to explain the origin of our species on the spot in language that a 4 year old, however bright, can understand.  I'm going to spend some time looking up some things online so that I know how to approach this.  I'm just shocked, and a little proud, that he would think this logically.  Just thought I would share. 

As a side note, his dad is Christian.  I shared this story with him, but we didn't discuss what should be said.  I'm going for what is known scientifically now.  His dad didn't give his opinion as in we should talk about Adam and Eve, so I assume I have the clear to explain rational facts as we know it.  This part is a personal admission. 

                                                                 Langston & Alice

by on Nov. 7, 2011 at 9:54 PM
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iSarah
by on Nov. 25, 2011 at 8:17 AM
Did you ever figure out how to explain it? Maybe there is a YouTube video of evolution for kids, or the library. I would also explain that evolution is still a scientific theory with some evidence and that there is always the possibility that he could figure out what really happened!
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kristofsmommy
by on Jan. 30, 2012 at 12:04 AM
I give my son (3.5), who also asks similar questions, a really simple scientific explanation. An example, "DNA is your special story. It says what color your hair will be, how tall you will be and since you got half from me and half from Dad your story is similar to ours." He gets it for the most part and he loves it! When he is older I will tell him the theory of creationism so that he can defend himself against it with facts.
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MLEanne1129
by on Jan. 30, 2012 at 2:54 PM

Hello!

My 5 yo has been asking me these types of questions for a while. We found a book called Our Family Tree: an evolution story.  It has beautiful illustrations, and breaks down a simple idea of evolution and gives a few basics about DNA and cells, etc. My daughter really likes it and asks to read it frequentlly.  When she started with these questions, I was stumped too. Hey, sometimes I still am. :) Its definitely been a learning experience for me as well. 

As a divorced parent with a religious ex, I try really hard to share as many theories as I can with her, explainging that some people believe XYZ and others believe ABC. Then I ask her how what she thinks, feels, or believes.  

Here's the link to the book above :http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/our-family-tree-lisa-westberg-peters/1102803923?r=1&ean=9780152017729&cm_mmca2=pla&cm_mmc=GooglePLA-_-Book-_-Q000000633-_-9780152017729

if you find any other resources for this topic, please share! I'd love to expand some of our resources for my little ones too!

JuneH
by on Sep. 22, 2012 at 7:48 PM
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Quoting iSarah:

Did you ever figure out how to explain it? Maybe there is a YouTube video of evolution for kids, or the library. I would also explain that evolution is still a scientific theory with some evidence and that there is always the possibility that he could figure out what really happened!



I'm new here, so I may be poking my nose in where it isn't wanted, but working from word definitions, evolution isn't a "theory". It is an observation that requires a theory to explain it. Just like gravity isn't a " theory", it's also an observation, and we have a pretty good theory that explains it. It may be a minor point, but it's just one of those terms that a lot of people, including the media etc, use incorrectly. A theory is something that explains an observation. In the case of evolution (the observation), the theory that science currently uses to explain how it comes about is "natural selection", proposed by Darwin.

...and it doesn't have "some" evidence. It is one of the most well supported theories that science has ever produced. Saying there is "some" evidence for natural selection is like saying there is "some" evidence that the earth revolves around the sun... Although, again, that's actually an observation. So really, saying there is some evidence for the earth revolving around the sun might be more like saying there is some evidence for evolution. Or that there is some evidence that the earth is indeed a globe. Observation. NOT a theory.

What to tell a kid? Every time someone is born they may look a little different from their parents, and their kids may look a little different than them. After hundreds, and thousands, and hundreds of thousands of years of this, we look REALLY different than those that lived all those years ago. They had more hair etc. You might not even recognize them as being related to you. They didn't look like grandma. But things change slowly over time, so there wasn't really one first human, they just kind of looked more like us over time. 200,000 years from now people will think you look pretty funny looking yourself!
LindaClement
by on Sep. 23, 2012 at 12:59 AM

I had that conversation with my youngest for about 12 years.

She wanted to know who 'made the first human'...

The fact is, evolution is a BIG idea --much, much bigger than the discrete human story...

It's like how BIG the universe is. To a 4yo, dads are BIG. On that scale, there is no word GIGANTIC ENORMOUSLY VASTLY HUGE to explain how big the city they live in is. Which is dwarfed by the size of Lake Michigan, which is dwarfed by the size of Alaska, which is dwarfed by the size of South America. Which is miniscule compared to the amount of ground space on this planet that is too hostile for humans to live. Which is a fraction of the size of the Atlantic Ocean, which is much, much smaller than the Pacific... and so it goes, long before you get anywhere near 'the distance between us and the moon.' Or anything genuinely 'big' like the galaxy...

It takes time to feed these scales into brains. It's astonishing to astronomers and quantum physicists. It's not a wonder these magnitudes don't fit neatly into a 4yo's brain.

iSarah
by on Oct. 28, 2012 at 3:40 PM
Yeah, you're right. Wrong words. I learn something new every day.


Quoting JuneH:

Quoting iSarah:

Did you ever figure out how to explain it? Maybe there is a YouTube video of evolution for kids, or the library. I would also explain that evolution is still a scientific theory with some evidence and that there is always the possibility that he could figure out what really happened!





I'm new here, so I may be poking my nose in where it isn't wanted, but working from word definitions, evolution isn't a "theory". It is an observation that requires a theory to explain it. Just like gravity isn't a " theory", it's also an observation, and we have a pretty good theory that explains it. It may be a minor point, but it's just one of those terms that a lot of people, including the media etc, use incorrectly. A theory is something that explains an observation. In the case of evolution (the observation), the theory that science currently uses to explain how it comes about is "natural selection", proposed by Darwin.



...and it doesn't have "some" evidence. It is one of the most well supported theories that science has ever produced. Saying there is "some" evidence for natural selection is like saying there is "some" evidence that the earth revolves around the sun... Although, again, that's actually an observation. So really, saying there is some evidence for the earth revolving around the sun might be more like saying there is some evidence for evolution. Or that there is some evidence that the earth is indeed a globe. Observation. NOT a theory.



What to tell a kid? Every time someone is born they may look a little different from their parents, and their kids may look a little different than them. After hundreds, and thousands, and hundreds of thousands of years of this, we look REALLY different than those that lived all those years ago. They had more hair etc. You might not even recognize them as being related to you. They didn't look like grandma. But things change slowly over time, so there wasn't really one first human, they just kind of looked more like us over time. 200,000 years from now people will think you look pretty funny looking yourself!

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