I was going to start this post by saying that nature study is one of my favorite parts of being a Charlotte Mason homeschooler. But, if I’m being honest, they’re all my favorite parts.
Nature, though, has so many benefits for children. I recently read Barefoot and Balanced and was amazed at how many modern ailments in children can be linked to insufficient outside time.
Charlotte Mason, in her work Home Education, encouraged educators to take children for a weekly walk in nature. This is not intended to be a formal science lesson. While a parent is welcome to offer additional information as the child is ready for it, the primary goal is for children to learn about the world around them as they become active observers.
My sister and I have been making a point of taking our children to the local state park on Friday mornings. When the weather was warmer, we’d let them swim in the lake. Now that it’s cooling off, we’ve been taking a more “official” nature walk around the pond.
Today, it was raining, but since there’s value in observing nature in all its forms, we put on our rain boots and went to the park anyway.
When we got to the park, there was no one at the guard booth–so there’s a pro-tip for you. Go early and go in the rain, and you may get in for free!
As we walked, we learned to step cautiously since the rocks might be slippery. We observed mushrooms and speculated about the different kinds of fungus we saw growing on downed trees. We saw tree trunks that beavers were working on. We observed the changing colors of the leaves and noticed how direct sunlight affects the leaves’ colors.
We found an aster that my plant-identification app had to use the Canadian database to identity. (And we live in the southeastern US, so I’d guess we were seeing microclimates in action!) And we observed how much louder the waterfall is when there have been several days of rain.
And we even threw in a little bit of history when we learned about the work men did at the park during the Great Depression.
By the time we were finished with our walk, the rain had picked up considerably and we were ready to get into the dry car.
All in all, an enjoyable morning.
Do you make a point of spending time in nature with your children?