What if Nature is not your thing?

Nature not your thing? Gasp! Horror! How can a homeschool mum admit to such a thing? Well, if I am going to be honest it has to be admitted! I enjoy being out in nature, enjoying its peaceful rejuvenating qualities but to actually study it – no, that aspect as been a homeschool ideal that we just haven’t reached.

But there is change in the wind.

As I read about homeschoolers using the great outdoors as a major aspect of their education choices for their children I wish it were different with me. I have moments of inspiration and I get charged with enthusiasm but then reality hits and we settle back without nature studies.

Why do nature studies?

As with anything I struggle with, or anything I set up as an ideal, I try and ask myself “why do it?” I need to know what my reasons are; not someone else’s reasons, but my reasons, for pursuing such a practice.

Here is my list:

  • Being outdoors is restful and refreshing, we need to establish the habit of slowing down
  • Showcases God’s creative hand – the Bible says that we can know who God is by observing the world; His creation
  • Being together, slowing down together, builds Relationships
  • Teaches observation – one of the key skills for the study of science
  • Gives opportunity for kids to ask questions and find answers

Looking at all those reasons – sure is convincing!!

I continue to be hesitant though as I look at all the examples of nature journals we can find online. Those mums who love plants and animals, who are inspired themselves by being outdoors, are able to pass on their love for nature to their children - just as I have been able to do about the things I am passionate about - but I don’t think logically when I see the lovely drawings, the consistent entries and the variety of observations in their journals!

One of the things that I do regret is that I didn’t make time outdoors more a part of our family routine when my older two were young. The children played outside but we rarely went out all together as a family. One of the things that is making me revisit the whole nature thing is the realization that my younger two have different inclinations and nature is very much a part of what they enjoy. Now is the time for me to learn something new myself.

The other day I was giving directions to our place to a new family in town. She said, “Oh, we’ve been there – we went up your road bird watching and then realized it was private property and turned around.” I was stunned – bird watching! On our place! There’s only cockatoos! Her comments opened my eyes to what is really there should I just take a moment to be aware.

How to do Nature Studies in my house

The next thing after establishing why is to consider the how. This aspect also needs to be my how – not imitating, or trying to imitate what I see others do.

My thoughts on how we can become more aware of God's Creation in our lives

  • See opportunity beyond going for nature walks with my children
  • Encourage my children to observe when they play outdoors, though don’t make everything a lesson
  • Slow down, at least once a week, and enjoy the outdoors together especially during the Dry Season when the weather is so lovely
  • To keep my focus on enjoying God’s world rather than studying it
  • When we do want to record our learning use learning tools and methods that are already established in our family and that are in keeping with the children’s interests.

It would be arrogant though, to ignore the wisdom of others especially those who love nature and can express it so naturally.

Jimmie’s squidoo – CM Nature Study

Handbook of Nature Study especially Green hour – weekly challenges gently introducing the children to nature study

Quotes that made me Think

No child should be compelled to have a notebook.

Handbook of Nature Study page 14

This quote jerked me into thinking straight. My goals is not, or should not be to have a lovely journal, though I can see a few of my children eventually connecting with that idea. I must keep my focus on my goals – relationship with God the creator and with each other and secondly to train the skills of observation.

It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle
that the modern methods of instruction
have not entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry.

Albert Einstein

Curiosity – how many times has my expectations and lectures dampened natural curiosity? This is a perfect opportunity to show my children by example, by being a model of someone who can enjoy and observe.

We cannot measure the influence
that one artist or another
has on the child’s sense of beauty,
upon his power of seeing, as in a picture,
the common sight of life...

Charlotte Mason

Though CM was talking about picture study isn’t God the greatest artist? What wonders can our children learn by seeing God's world first hand, that is, experiencing it for themselves.

Let them once get in touch with nature
and a habit is formed which will be a source
of delight and habit through life.

Charlotte Mason

This is what I want for myself and for my children – a lifetime habit of being able to slow down, to appreciate God, to appreciate his creation, to appreciate human relationships. I can teach my children, develop in them a heart for these things, even though I am learning these lessons the hard way as an adult.

Live life with your kids!

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