Nature walks should be somewhat spontaneous opportunities for discovery. Learn from my early homeschooling mistakes and DO NOT treat nature study like an outdoor class time — it kills the child’s natural curiosity and delight! My older children eventually refused to participate in nature study. Instead, look for ways to include regular weekly or daily outings in nature and provide some simple tools and methods to encourage your children to notice, explore, engage and enjoy nature.
Charlotte Mason bemoaned,
“We are awaking to the use of nature-knowledge, but how we spoil things by teaching them!” (Formation of Character, p. 396).
Of course mom, you can set a topic of focus and guide your students to look for something specific, but be sure to give them lots of opportunities to observe closely and carefully for themselves with a minimum of input from you. May I suggest that the reference books are kept in your nature study bag to be used only when a child asks for additional information? Allow your child’s natural curiosity and let them study elements and objects “off-topic” and follow their lead!
“As soon as he is able to keep it himself, a nature-diary is a source of delight to a child. Every day’s walk gives him something to enter …” (Vol 1, p.54-55)
Here are some of my Nature Study posts, practical tips and free downloads from my archives:
Our Theme for the Day and refreshed Daily Themes provides a simple visual reminder to include all the “extras” in our weeks such as Nature Study, Poetry, Fine Arts, Creative Writing, Geography and Science.
My three Smash This Nature Journals provide loads of fun, simple, unusual and unique nature journal prompts which inspire joyful nature experiences. Order and print your Smash Nature Journals to encourage fabulous, fun nature activities!
Free John Muir Nature Quotes & free Copywork pages include about 10 pages of John Muir quotes in either print or cursive using Charlotte Mason’s copywork & dictation principles.(Of course this is only for handwriting practice and not as part of the nature study lesson!)
How to create a Perpetual Nature Journal with explanations and links on how to create your own perpetual nature journal.
How to create a Nature Study notice board or shelf and a post on how a simple Nature Tray provides a wonderful way to display the week’s nature finds for collection, further study and drawing in nature journals.
John Muir Law encourages how to cultivate curiosity in nature study 3 ways. He believes that the key to developing a closer connection with nature is by deliberately enhancing your powers of observation and wonder. He says,“Attention is what the fabric of love is made from.” This post explains his method.
I trust that these ideas and suggestions inspire you to relax or upgrade your Nature Studies in your homeschooling!
All in grace, for grace, Nadene