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Friday, October 1, 2010

Nature Study: One of the Constants




"a child has natural relations with a vast number of things and thoughts: 
so we must train him upon physical exercises, nature, handicrafts, 
science and art, and upon many living books..."
Charlotte Mason, vol 1. pg7
 
I'm happy to say that nature study finally happens just about  every day around here.






I just treasure it when my littlest kids will bring me something from outside they've taken the time to acquaint themselves with. My eldest children will joyfully grab their journals and sit; observing, thinking and then sketching.  Ahhh. The JOYS of implementing study of the lovely...




It hasn't always been this way. Nature study used to be one of those things on the list that carried over from week to week rarely getting done. In years previous, nature study (or actually the time separated for, and labeled as such), used to be a hit and miss thing for us... but it has now come into full bloom over the last few years, and now is one of the things we never stop doing.  I can almost say that we are now pretty much constantly studying nature.  What happened to bring about this metamorphosis?




Things had to change.
Here's a list of our changes I've noted over the course of the last several years:


Several ways to make nature study one of the constants at your house...

1) Don't look at nature study as a school subject, but as a lifestyle.
Noticing creatures and plants and giving God glory for them is a WONDERFUL way to live. It doesn't have to fit into a time slot, or into a certain notebook. It's just a way that we can begin to think about and look at life. It is extremely refreshing!





2) Look out for living things EVERYWHERE.
Open your eyes and see what can be seen. We've seen bugs in parking lots, in the car, as well as on the trail. We can watch the landscape from car windows as well as from the ledge of a mountain hike. Pull out your camera and snap a shot if you don't have time to really look at it right at that very moment.  (You'll need to get into the habit of having a camera handy as well!)




3) Force yourself outside regularly.
Take a few moments to make yourself go outside, every day if possible. Even if it is just standing on the patio, or with your head out your open window! Schedule it if you have to. This helps especially when just beginning to make nature study a habit.  Don't even worry about whether or not this transfers to your kids or not.  Just make it your OWN habit... believe me, the excitement has a way of naturally transferring.  :)




4) Let yourself stop to wonder at the complexity and beauty of God's creation.
Sometimes, we let ourselves get SO busy that we don't even notice loveliness around us!  How sad is that?!  When we're busy we have to make a conscious effort to stop, slow down and smell the honeysuckle.  :)  When you see something, take the time to notice it and ask yourself questions about it. For example, 'WOW! Look at the eyes on that praying mantis! Ooh, I think he's watching me... I wonder if I move over here if his eyes will follow...' etc.




"So exceedingly delightful is this faculty of taking mental photographs, exact images, of the beauties of Nature we go about the world for the refreshment of seeing..."
Charlotte Mason, vol.1 pg 48

Now. For lots of years, nature study was an 'extra' around here (along with lots of other wonderful subjects)... And you know what?  It's okay... that was my yesterday... and I know it was just a stage. (Albeit a stage I hope never to regress to!)

The guilty conscience....  Probably all of us have been tempted to wish we had done things differently.  But, we don't need to beat ourselves up about what we've done or NOT done in the past.  We might be tempted to think we've wrecked our kids, and that the damage is irreversible.  Do you give yourself a hard time about stuff like that?  Would you rather not?   First, we need to accept things as they are... our reality.  We admit we're unhappy with how things have been, and let that motivate us to do things differently from this point forward.  It's never too late to start doing things better! (of course this carries over to ALL parts of life, doesn't it?)


Do you *do* nature study? 
How has it morphed in your life?

If it's your goal to begin... 
What will you do to make nature study part of the new you?





P.S.  I'm hosting the Charlotte Mason Blog carnival next Tuesday... have you submitted your post?

10 comments:

Phyllis said...

Yeah! You got it down, don't you? I love it. That is exactly the way we do it. Very good post!

Michelle said...

Great post, Amy. We are returning to A more Charlotte Mason style of learning, but regrettably, my oldest daughter has very little interest in nature, insects or studying them!

(Unlike me and our younger two who are always fascinated at watching all sorts of creatures!) It isn't for lack of MY enthusiasm, that's for sure! Any suggestions? She's 14 and incidentally, the weather is turning colder. We also have long winters!

amy said...

oh yes amy, i am completely with you on this one. i used to feel like such a nature study failure, and then slowly, as i began taking my children out and pointing things out to them, they started doing it on their own. we found some used field guides, bought a bird feeder and butterfly feeder, and now i can't get them to stop! (not that i would want to) they are in love with nature. in fact, we just got back from our library book sale and my two middle children went with me, and they picked out nothing but nature books... birds, bugs, sea creatures. and of course all the bug habitats they have created in the backyard... i did practically nothing, just merely directed them to open their eyes to nature, and they took off!

love your post, so glad to have found this blog after the comment you left on mine yesterday... who knew we were both ao mamas?! it's a small world!

Silvia said...

What a GREAT post, Amy. I mean it. I'm soooo happy you share that accompanied by the CM quotes.
Thanks,
s

mommyx12 said...

Amy, that's what I have found too. To make it just a part of our lives rather than a subject. Each of my children has a calendar from month to month and each day they record something in it. This has been the best way I have found to get it incorporated on a regular basis.

I love all the thoughts and ideas you gave. I'm taking it all to heart. Thanks for posting.

Richele said...

My light bulb moment came when a friend had confessed to me that one day her son and husband had literally stopped to smell the roses. She walked right past them, angry that they might be late.

"How sick is that?!" she moaned.

It really hit me and I wondered how many roses I'd walked by without stopping. If we're told to ponder, consider, meditate and think upon God's creation then we'd better. There's much more than a Friday afternoon lesson in there.

Yikes - next Tuesday!? I'd better get busy.

Jennifer in MamaLand said...

These are all so true, and very inspiring for me to get off my bottom and start "being" an outdoors person with my kids, even though it's not how I see myself. Especially because the kids are so young... it's easy to get wrapped up in the academics; harder to focus on something so gorgeously simple.

call*me*kate said...

We got interested in birds and bird watching years ago, I think before my youngest was born. Now, every child has their own bird book and after years of using them, my older two kids are very good at identifying birds. My daughter is still more interested in insects right now. I agree that if I'm interested in something, it often draws my children in. They have seen how I hoot, holler and jump for joy when I spot the elusive belted kingfisher!

About that nice comment you left me concerning our homemade peanut butter - we used dry roasted (unsalted) peanuts. Therefore, they needed more oil, probably 4 tablespoons per cup of peanuts. We just drizzled in the oil until we got a decent consistency. Be warned: After eating homemade peanut butter, it was tough to go back to our store-bought all natural peanut butter. We were spoiled!

I enjoy your blog; have a terrific week!
-Kate

pebblekeeper said...

Love the post. We actively included nature study last winter. We were always intrigued with delights out doors, but from an observe at a distance level. Now that we take the time to listen, stop, sketch, enjoy, compare, create - it has become a part of our lifestyle of learning even more. I find that I am the true naturalist -and that the boys are my willing curious companions. I could spend hours in the woods just listening. :)

Hodgepodgemom said...

Aaaah... you put it all to words. Also a reformed "nature as an extra" but now it is the delight of our homeschool.

Lovely post

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