The term “nature study” can be a bit of a kaleidoscope. It means different things to different people. Many believe that it applies only to formal lessons on nature-related topics, such as a structured lesson on the life cycle of a beetle.
Embracing Winter in Our Homeschool
It’s been awhile since I wrote a “week in review post.” Our late autumns and early winters tend to necessitate a bit of a stepping-away or dialing-back. I use the time to reflect on the year past, set my focus for the year ahead, and to enjoy the holidays with my family. We took the last two weeks of December, and the first week of January, off from homeschool and the much-needed break was heavenly.
Nature is our classroom, our teacher, and our favorite playmate all rolled into one.
Welcome to the post where I show you our homeschooling space. We don’t really have one.
Here’s the thing: there is not a used book store, regular book store, library, book pile at a rummage sale, or Scholastic sale I can walk by without stopping and stacking up more books than two people can safely carry. I have a weakness, and her name is books.
It has always been, and will always be so. I’m pretty sure that’s why the Charlotte Mason philosophy resonated with me so strongly. I want shelves and shelves of books. And I want the rolling ladder so I can do that “Belle move” every morning as I swoon over my shelves and shelves of books.
Just as bees are starting up their springtime dance, April seems to wake something up in us homeschoolers, too. Whether we fly into full planning mode or not, most of us are reflecting on the year gone by and dreaming about the one to come.
If a homeschool fairy swooped down one day and told me I could only choose three tools to teach my children, I’d like to think I would not hesitate. I would smile and reply, “Books, nature, and open-ended art supplies.” But my answer is a sneaky one. I firmly believe that, at least in the early grades, you can teach just about every subject with these three things.
The first time I heard of Charlotte Mason, I was in my early twenties. I’d never heard of her or her methods prior to studying early childhood education. Yet somehow, despite my (relatively unromantic) public school education, I discovered that I had managed to have a Charlotte Mason childhood.
Between my parents and my grandparents, I’d grown up in a world richly infused with nature, literature, and the arts. I spent every moment I could outdoors, rambling over fields on my bike,
The seasons in Colorado, especially spring, aren’t exactly clearly-defined. Just the other day, I took the dogs on a morning walk through icy sleet, only to enjoy a hot, sunny afternoon at the park with the girls mere hours later. We dance between snow, rain, hail, and sunny 80 degree days from mid-March until, sometimes, the beginning of June. Even so, spring is magical. And it’s one of my favorite times to play hooky from table work in pursuit of muddy puddles and new, green sprouts.
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Any fellow Wildcraft fans out there? We got this game as a Christmas gift from my sister and, from the moment I opened it, I was in love. It’s got everything that makes my inner nature-nerd swoon! We’ve played it several times since then, and my daughters have already learned so much. We love incorporating games into our homeschool routine, so it was a perfect fit for our nature-based homeschool.
I read something when I was very new in my homeschooling journey that struck me to my core, and has stayed with me ever since. It was Charlotte Mason’s list of a what a six year-old should know. Here are a few of the things it included: