Sunday, September 16, 2007

Nature Study; formal or not

In my eclectic homeschool, I feel a strong leaning towards a Charlotte Mason philosophy. One of Charlotte's famous ideas is that children should be out in nature every day. In fact, that is the first thing I every heard about CM. I thought, so this women wants us to run around outside and never do any academics? Of course, that turned out to not be true. And once I got a hold of Karen Andreola's A Charlotte Mason Companion, I was hooked. But how to incorporate nature study into our already busy homeschool schedule?

I had grand plans to go on nature walks once a week. I bought sketch books and good colored pencils. I was set, but then things kept coming up on our nature walk afternoons and when we did find ourselves in nature, like taking a hike with daddy on the weekend, I would forget to bring the sketchbooks...

I was discouraged, but then I realized that we spend lots of time in nature, but it is not always scheduled and formal. Summers find us on frequent hikes and camping weekends. Fridays bring Park Day by the lake or creek. Afternoons lure the kids to our back yard. The sketchbooks are empty, but pictures drawn from our backyard and hikes can be found strewn about the house. There is always room for improvement, but for us for now our nature studies happen by chance and most often without our sketchbooks. To me the purpose of nature study is to instill in our children a love of the great outdoors. We may not be learning the Latin name so every flower and fauna, but we are enjoying ourselves in nature. Isn't that what it's all about?

* You can read more about how others apply Charlotte Mason's ideas on nature studies at the first CM blog carnival at The Educational Life.

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