"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?