Well, it's holiday time here in Queensland. A delicious, official 2 week break between terms. If you follow the school term dates, that is. We are not so strict, usually allowing ourselves an extra week or so either side. We loosely follow the school term dates in order to give ourselves an official break and allow time to catch up with friends and family who go to school. It also gives us a chance to take some time to clean, organise, and clear our head space. Mine especially.
This week finds me with a quiet few days to begin digging into some jobs I've let go for too long. Including one of my favourites - tidying and freshening up my bookshelves. As books feature significantly in our lifestyle of learning, our bookshelves get pretty muddled after a couple of months. Something I have been meaning to do for the past 12 months is reorganise the portfolio's of work I have collected over the years for each daughter. It is time to trim and get savvy.
I have a simple work storage system. A4 size folders with plastic pockets and any work that the girls have been particularly proud of or have put in excellent effort have been added, bit by bit. That's it. Unfortunately it has all become quite unwieldy when trying to show others samples of what we have done. It was high time I tackled this task.
I purchased new folders - one for each daughter. Each folder is now divided into topic/subject areas to make it easier to reference. And now, each folder holds the work I have sifted through, taking out what was important, beautiful, and a good example of a method/book/resource that we tried out. Feels good.
What also feels good is the trip down memory lane. How much we forget as the years roll on. Each sample of work, each completed project also stores memories as well as lessons long forgotten. Oral narrations, pictures, art works, home made books, delightful childish stories penned by young fingers and young hearts, experiments, and holiday journal memories.
What a delight, to take the time to walk down memory lane. Remembering the dreams of this young homeschooling mother's heart, and the little girls who loved stories, art, and playing games.
Nature Study is ...
... natural science from an ecological point of view
... an aesthetic experience as well as a discipline
... a broadening of intellectual outlook, an expansion of sympathy, a fuller life
Anna Botsford Comstock, Handbook of Nature Study
Nature Study, in its simplest form, is a process of interacting, observing, recording, and reflecting on what we find in our natural world. In its broadest sense, Nature Study is a method of developing a relationship with our natural habitat. Young children delight in forming relationships and making discoveries of their natural world. They are in it - smelling flowers, rolling down grassy hillsides, building sandcastles, kicking balls, chasing ducks, blowing dandelion seeds, jumping in mud puddles - and it can be an easy step to channel our children's experiences into the habit of nature walks, creating nature journals, naming their discoveries and learning the order of our natural world.
Teens can be a little more reticent in their nature study habits. Like us as homeschooling parents, our teens days are filled with study, work, community and family commitments. Nature Study can easily lose its appeal and the habit of it can fall by the wayside. Likewise if our teens are new to the lifestyle of home education, they may initially consider nature study to be a time filler with no real connection to their study, work, or community life.
Approach to Nature Study: 4 Tips
Science - A formalised approach to nature study for the teen who enjoys structure and is following a formal science study program.
Backyard Living - A home-based approach to nature study for the teen who enjoys gardening, backyard chickens, home cooking, and attracting wildlife to your garden.
Literature - An approach inspired by the stories and experiences of local and worldwide naturalists. For the book lover.
Art - A creative approach using our natural world as inspiration to create works of art. Inspired by artists who create paintings, sketches, journals, photo's, movies, music, poetry and prose in response to their experiences in the natural world.
4 Ingredients of the Nature Study Experience
Time out of doors; Time to observe; Time to record and learn; Time to respond and reflect, are the 4 ingredients of a full nature study experience. Each of these ingredients are present in the 4 ways of approaching nature study in a way that complements the varied approaches.
How have you explored the idea and practice
of nature study with your teens?