Friday, May 25, 2012

N is for Nature Study

I am the last person that should be talking about Nature Study.  I have no background, and I would have never considered it as a fundamental part of a child's education until I learned about Charlotte Mason.  There is so much for me to learn about the philosophy of a Charlotte Mason education, but one of the first things I knew I could implement immediately was outdoor time and informal nature study.

Charlotte Mason believed children should be outside daily, for hours if possible, and not just for the health benefits.  Being outdoors allows the child first-hand experience with nature, and is the basis for science during the earliest years.  While I cannot readily identify every bird, flower or insect for the boys, I can expose them to the beauty and wonder of nature, and at this age, that is my goal; not to teach them everything about nature, but to let them discover it.

"They must be let alone, left to themselves a great deal, to take in what they can of the beauty of earth and heavens."  
-- Charlotte Mason

Right now I mostly leave the children to do as they please outside.  I am there for supervision, to offer ideas when they are "bored" and to answer their questions to the best of my ability.  Sometimes we talk about evaporation and the water cycle as we watch our favorite splash puddle dry up.  Some days we watch frogs or tadpoles.  Other days they observe ants working busily.

All of these are interesting and exciting experiences for young children, so why deprive them of their natural curiosity?  I'm writing this as part of the blogging through the alphabet series, but I am also writing to remind myself that it's just fine to drop everything and spend the afternoon outdoors playing and discovering.  The laundry will still be there, but these moments with two little boys are precious, and I don't want to miss a second of it.



  1. Hear, hear! I always envisioned my kids, before I had any, running through fields and woods, but it was only after I made a point to get outside with them over the last few years that it became a reality for us. Charlotte Mason knew what she was talking about!

  2. I agree! You never know what will catch their attention - even my bigger kids show some excitement over finding toads near our water garden or a praying mantis on one of the plants.