Nature Study – 3 Top Tips For Beginners!

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There is no season such delight can bring as summer, autumn, winter and spring – William Browne

One of the greatest delights in using the Charlotte Mason method is her emphasis on nature study; there’s nothing greater than seeing your children caught in awe and wonder by God’s beautiful creation. Not only does regular nature study lay a foundation for the study of science but it enriches a child’s life. Charlotte states that when children are outdoors interacting with nature it in fact increases their intellect and makes them a more interesting person, I agree!

“Consider, too, what an unequalled mental training the child-naturalist is getting for any study or calling under the sun — the powers of attention, of discrimination, of patient pursuit, growing with his growth, what will they not fit him for?”

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We can easily get overwhelmed when beginning our homeschooling journey as to where to start and what to do; take a breather mama and go for a walk. It all starts here.

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Here are three tips that might help you get on your way:

  1.  Walk the walk

Whether it’s your garden, your great aunt’s yard, the local park or the forest your house overlooks (sigh) do the same walk every week. The repetitive pattern of seeing the same trees, flowers, fields week after week may seem monotonous here in words but in reality it’s a beautiful journey that you commit to and get excited about with each season. Every time you walk those paths you see new things, identify new species, collect treasures along the way and eventually you’ll be naming trees, plants and birds as you pass them (as will your children). We have a ‘green space’ about 5 minutes walk from our house; we’ve been told that it may have been an old Victorian landscaped garden as there are such a variety of trees, but I’m yet to do my research! My husband walks our dog there every day, often with the children and we take an intentional nature walk there every week. It has taken years of observation, touch, smell and sight to learn only a handful of the trees and plants on that walk but we could walk you round and name many species along the way! Of course we walk in and visit many other places throughout the year; woods, castle gardens, lakes and seas but our neighbourhood green space is in the regular peaceful rhythm of our home educating days.

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2. Don’t sweat the sketch

There is seemingly so much emphasis on nature journals, sketching ‘what you see’ and recording your botanical findings but be kind to yourself and allow you and your young learners to grow with the process. Take photo’s and upload them when you get home to look through together and talk about what you saw, jot down basic sights and smells in a normal week to view diary, print out pictures, find species in books to copy if it makes it less stressful for your students! You will learn to find your rhythm and form of expression with your children in order to record your nature findings but there’s no rush to become the Edwardian Lady, really!

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 3. It starts with you!

I’m sorry to say, but as with most of my home educating or parenting ‘wisdom’ it really does start with us! We have to cultivate a love of being outdoors, appreciating God’s creation, reading and researching ourselves in order to inspire our children. There are so many beautiful books, illustrated poetry anthologies and prospective botanical besties out there waiting for your cry for HELP!! You know as well as I do that our children see through our ‘fake’ interest; if we love it and show passion for it, it becomes infectious. If it doesn’t come natural to you, find another family to walk and learn with; we’re all in this together!

To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring – George Santayana


Over the next few weeks I plan to share more around our personal out working of the Charlotte Mason method with regular updates on our nature study , use of living books and daily rhythms. Please feel free to ask your questions here in the comments, over on my Facebook page or via Instagram.

If you’re using the Charlotte Mason method here in the UK, I host a Facebook group, please head over and request to join here.



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