for the love of nature

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Recently, one of my children said “You know Mom, really everything that is science is nature. Our bodies are nature, really, and the sea, and the other things we study for science, we could really just call them all nature study.”

We had been reading this book, and it really gets him thinking about all things science, nature, history and farming.

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Another child has been enjoying a biography of George Washington Carver. He told me a story of the “new” idea of using peanut oil for healing. We joked about the “pioneer of essential oils”…

That particular child has struggled to draw nature, and the process has been slow. I recently bought him his own set of watercolors, and something seemed to click. I was excited when he sat in the backyard for over an hour to do a watercolor drawing of all the plant life back there. It was truly impressive, with careful attention to detail. He can name each of those plants and trees. (This was on his “day off” from school.)

Another child loves beautiful drawings of nature, and is always thinking of creative ways to observe it.

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This child is my sunset buddy, and would probably be my sunrise buddy if sleep weren’t so beloved. A few weeks ago, that child decided to make a personal “Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady” by Edith Holden. (As you can see below, this book is worthy of imitation!)  It’s hard to explain the joy that comes to me from these small things. There has been a struggle to make the study of our world something that is refreshing and enjoyable to each individual person. I’m so glad we have persevered.

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This child has also formed a sense of humor involving the study of cells, bacteria, and other intricacies of science, and we have giggled through countless narrations together!

A few weeks ago, one of my children came bursting (literally) into my room with a very dirty bird’s nest. Finally, the excitement of having his own bird’s nest for his nature shelf! (I have one in the living room, and wasn’t donating it to the nature shelf…he had to find his own.)

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As we talked about what type of bird may have built the nest, he began relating how he “knew for sure that it was NOT a nest of Teacher, the Oven Bird”, since he knows that his nest is on the ground. Then he began to remind me of the story of the Oven Bird I had read to him at least a year ago. (I looked it up to check his facts…he was right on.) What a testimony that the Burgess Bird Book was worth all of that time!

I love that Charlotte recognized that true education happens almost imperceptibly. She said “Education, like Faith, is the evidence of things not seen”.

Most days, homeschooling with the Charlotte Mason method is a journey of faith. I can sometimes see that things are working, but some days there is quite a lot of trusting. Science is one of those areas for me. I have learned so much by reading blogs. Nancy’s posts on nature study, science, and the idea of using living books for science, just like I do with the other subjects has been slowly growing on me. I wish I’d had the courage to embrace it sooner. But then this post by Nicole (another favorite blogger) reminded me that I’m not alone with the doubts. (And yes, high school science can be approached in this way as well. It is naturally more involved, but the principles remain the same.)

 “Books dealing with science as with history, say, should be of a literary character, and we should probably be more scientific as a people if we scrapped all the text-books which swell publishers’ lists and nearly all the chalk expended so freely on our blackboards.”

-Charlotte Mason (emphasis mine)

And why would we use literary books for science? Because we are drawn into the story. Our imagination becomes involved, and we remember it forever. Those are no longer dry “scientific facts”, but they become part of us! (We have experienced this in our school, and it is exciting to watch a child get involved in a story, because the knowledge becomes effortless.)

I wish I had realized sooner that each of these precious children has their own personality, and that each of them will enjoy the study of nature, and all of God’s creation in a slightly different way as their personalities emerge. It is a privilege to watch them grow.

4 Comments on “for the love of nature

  1. The literary approach to science has also been so helpful for me as well as my children. I’ve branched out into areas I’d previously felt out of my depth in because the literary approach pads out the information and makes it accessible. Love the CM quote about Education & faith.

  2. I absolutely love hearing the connections that your children are making! 🙂 Thank you for this lovely post, Mary, a lot of food for thought and I wholeheartedly agree that this is an education of faith but also of delight! 🙂 One of my favorite quotes lately:

    “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”

    Robert Louis Stevenson

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