Sunday, August 03, 2008

Nature Study

Charlotte Mason (1842-1923) was such a wise woman to recommend Nature Study for children. She had an eye for Our Father's Creation, and a heart for sharing her appreciation of the world God created. And she passed them both on, through her teachings and through her books, inspiring countless parents and children all over the world even now.

According to Miss Mason, every child has an innate interest in nature, but it is the parents' responsibility to encourage it. Otherwise it will be lost as the child matures into adulthood.

I encouraged this "interest" for years and years, and in these past few years the children have nearly completely taken it upon themselves to experience and explore nature with very little leading from me. I often find them observing, and then see them get out the nature guide books and resources to learn more, completely on their own. It is not uncommon to find photos on the digital camera, rough sketches around the house on scrap papers, and noses pressed into the Nature Guides. And in Nature Notebooks I find finished sketches, and sometimes passages of scripture, poems, pieces of song lyrics, and even quotes from books.

Even DadtoCherubs has taken photos (with his phone - wouldn't CM be impressed !) of things he sees as he is driving around our area -- a hawk on the side of the road, a turtle crossing the road, a flock of strange birds on a pond, to name a few. And on a few occassions he has had his desk covered with Nature Guides, searching for an identification. DadtoCherubs has said he wishes his own education had included Nature Studies.

It is such a blessing to see our children seek such beauty on their own, motivated by their own observations, their own curiousity ... and then to see them reach their own educated conclusions. That is most certainly a True Education !! (Thank you Miss Mason for drawing our attention to God's amazing creation in such a fantastic way !)

It seems that too many children today learn of nature in a classroom with a textbook, yet fail to even notice all that the out-of-doors has to offer. Miss Mason called it an evil "that children get their knowledge of natural history, like all their knowledge, at second hand."

Instead, Charlotte Mason advised children learn of nature first hand with extended personal experiences. She suggested time outdoors everyday regardless of the weather. And on pleasant days, her recommendation was for four to six hours each day to be spent in the fresh air OUTSIDE !

"Never be within doors when you can rightly be without."
(Charlotte Mason)

Cherub 6 discovered this HUGE Praying Mantis while checking the rose bushes for new blooms. (in the center of the photo - with tail end facing nearly straight up and the head end facing nearly straight down.) Cherub 1 certainly had his GOOD EYES working .... and did a great job with the camera too, esp for being just 5yo.
Last evening, the children discovered this GIANT slug. It measured over 5" long, but every time we got clsoe to it, it would being to "squish up" to move. We have never seen a slug this big before.

And lastly, Cherub 4 spent quite some time watching this large Swallowtail Butterfly go from blossom to blossom on one of our Butterfly Bushes. He took 20+ photos of it. After taking the photos, he shared all of his observations with us before bedtime.

Thank you Lord for ALL that you created !


jamie in rose cottage said...

Lovely post; I look forward to including it in next week's CM blog carnival.

Kris! said...

I find it particularly wonderful that ALL your cherubs find something interesting in Nature. I believe it is innate in us all because Nature is so awesome. CM is keeping alive what our modern culture is trying to lose!

MommaofMany said...

My eldest turned twelve five months ago, and I can totally relate to you post!

Can you imagine how OUR parents feel?

Your family is such a joy to "know"; you do such fun things together!!

My daughter keeps a praying mantis every year, always choosing a female to collect, so she gets an ootheca and can watch the hatchlings in the spring!

Blessings to you this new week.