What’s more exciting than learning in the great outdoors? Not much in my book! One of the many great joys in homeschooling is the chance to learn first-hand about nature. Taking time to explore our surroundings and observe the details of our environment has been a blessing that we have been able to work into our school days, rather than squeezing in on weekends when many other people come out to explore.
Whether you have a nature area nearby or simply take a walk through your neighborhood, I encourage you to begin a dialogue with your children about what you notice around you. Feel free to stop in your path and encourage them to listen quietly, or stop and point out something as simple as a pattern on a rock. Maybe there’s something flying in the air – question what it could be and have your children try to help you get a good look. Or take an extra whiff while hiking around a bend and see if your kids notice the smell of a certain tree or flower. It might not be long before your kids pick up on this language and begin to discuss with you what they are noticing around them as you are out and about.
Over the past year, I’ve learned that my kids notice things I have looked right past. Maybe it’s because they are smaller than I am, or they have less on their mental “to-do” list than I do. Whatever the reason, they’ve helped me to notice some amazing bird calls, swirly shells on trails, how slimy algae can feel to the touch, and how a shadow can make a picture that looks like an animal on the ground. I’ve been amazed to find that they’ve even found beauty in a pesky old house fly, as they’ve admired it’s sparkly body.
When children begin to notice the things surrounding them, they are learning about nature first-hand. Their experiences become personal and may stick with them longer than reading a textbook.
With my young girls, I make it a habit to stock the car with magnifying glasses, bug boxes, and nature guides, along with our typical sunscreen, hats, and water bottles. By doing this, we have what we need if we take a quick detour to take a walk while we’re coming home from another event.
Daily, I am learning from my children what catches their eye and I’m discovering new beauty through their eyes, in places that I wasn’t even looking.
Take the time to talk with your children as you explore and share what you notice in nature. Pretty soon, you might be learning from your kids as well.
Andrea lives in Northern California with her husband and two young girls. She left 11 years of public school teaching to homeschool and hasn’t looked back. Andrea loves reading, writing, and spending time outdoors so naturally she fell in love with Charlotte Mason’s methods with her own eclectic twist. Outside of homeschooling, Andrea owns her own tutoring and educational consulting business. Connect with her on at her blog No Doubt Learning, Facebook, G+, Twitter, or Pinterest.