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.
Edwin Hubble said, “Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science.” Of equal notability (in my humble opinion), Richard Louv said “If we are going to save environmentalism and the environment, we must also save an endangered indicator species: the child in nature.”
As homeschooling parents, we often project our impression of our learning time together onto our children. But how often do we take a step back to see the day through their eyes? Speaking for myself, not often enough. I know my girls are happy, stimulated, and learning–I can see it in their faces and their muddy toes, and I hear it in their dinner-time banter. But what do they remember most
We’ve been using a morning basket for nearly two years, and I don’t see us stopping any time soon. This is by far one of the most delightful parts of our day, and it’s made it so much easier to include all of the rich experiences that come with a Charlotte Mason approach to homeschooling. We actually use both a morning basket and a bedtime basket, as we do a great deal of our homeschool in two chunks–one in the earliest part of the day, and one just before bed.
“We are all meant to be naturalists, each in his own degree, and it is inexcusable to live in a world so full of the marvels of plant and animal life and to care for none of these things.” – Charlotte Mason
One of the reasons I was so drawn to Charlotte Mason’s philosophies (way back in my school teacher days) was her passion for nature study–not as a fun little extra thing, but as a vital part of a spherical and purposeful education. I grew up with parents that believed this, and spent most of my free hours outside–climbing trees, building shelters, poking around under rocks and logs, and