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.
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.
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.
Spring is upon us! Soon the weather will be warming up and the inspirational Instragram posts will start flooding in, distracting us from our math lessons and laundry piles. Beautiful photos of wildflowers blanketing a mountainside, nests full of little blue eggs, and children romping through muddy, fresh-green fields will flash past us on our feed, urging us to bring out our inner-Charlotte Mason and dive full-throttle into the glory that is nature study.
Peanut butter and jelly. Peas and carrots. Peaches and cream. STEAM and nature study.
Yes, they belong together that much. This isn’t a new concept, it’s just that back in the olden days when we were kids, they didn’t call it “STEAM” (or “science, technology, engineering, art, and math.”) But we built forts, bridges, and hide-aways none the less. We forged ramps for our bikes, pulleys to get snacks to the top of the tree, and leaf crowns for our heads. We rigged up makeshift roller coasters, launched pinecones with homemade catapults, and sent crude little boats down drainage ditches. Most of us spent our childhood steeped in STEAM outside, from the time the sun came up until the street lights came on.