One of the things I love about homeschooling is how I can mix it up every year so that I am never bored with learning the same things over and over and over again. Because I do get bored easily, you know, and, really, it’s all about me, right? Ha! Actually, when I first started my homeschooling journey, Charlotte Mason was one of the first educational philosophies I ran into and fell in love with. And one of her Big Things was nature study. Alas, in 18 years of homeschooling, I have never, ever pulled off anything even remotely resembling nature study. Last year, I thought I’d give it a good try, and I bought this very nice curriculum called “Exploring Nature With Children”. It really can’t be any easier to use! Book lists, poetry, art, seasonally appropriate themes, activities – it’s all there, all neatly laid out… and I still couldn’t pull it off!
I’m going to blame Henry a little bit, because he’s just about the most challenging baby I have ever met, but even this year, even now that Henry is a cheerful and only slightly clingy child, even with the neatly organized and quite thorough curriculum, I still wasn’t finding time for nature study. Going on the theory that you make time for the things you value, I decided to go ahead and prioritize nature study, even if something else loses out in the end. That’s how we got going with art; I just started doing it, completely ignoring the fact that there were about a thousand other things we needed to be doing.
Not long ago, we were at a program at which we were to produce a piece of abstract art. Penelope looked at me and said, “Abstract art… haven’t we done that before? When we read about Kandinsky?” I did a little happy dance in my heart: meaningful experiences had been had and connections had been made; I’d given her a peg to hang her abstract artists on, and she was building up a collection. I want them to have that experience of nature, too, to know the birds and the trees that live in their place, to know what blooms in each season and who visits the flowers, to identify the six different grasses growing in the field their cows graze in. It’s more important to their well-being, I think, more likely to secure their future sense of peace and contentment and to encourage engagement with the larger world than, say, a vague knowledge of chemistry. I believe a love of nature is more likely to fuel future scientific inquiry than the usual course of science study.
So there you have it. Science is still at the bottom of my list! Poor science. Just when he thinks he’s getting a foothold in my homeschool.
So today, instead of completing our regularly scheduled assignments, we spent a pleasant morning walking through our overgrown fields, admiring the blooms and gathering the seeds we could find. There were a lot! The line fences were particularly favorable seed-gathering spots, and I must say, we have a staggering variety of weeds. I’m not sure if I want to nurture that biodiversity or tend my fields better so they grow grass! It was a pretty amazing first day.
And I got to spend time with my little ones out of doors, which always, always makes for a good day.
PS: Does anyone happen to know what this is?