Thursday, February 10, 2011
Nature Study - A Great Foundation For Science
Charlotte Mason was a British Educator who believed that education was about more than training for a job, passing an exam, or getting into the right college. She said education was an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life; it was about finding out who we were and how we fit into the world of human beings and into the universe God created.
When I was a young home educating mom I learned about Charlotte Mason online and I bought Karen Andreola's book "A Charlotte Mason Companion." It was so helpful to me and helped me to implement an attitude of learning in our home, rather than "read a section from a text and answer questions."
All these years later, I am still using Charlotte's ideas for nature study. Over the years we have observed a preying mantis, a garden spider's orb web and counted the rings, we have caught turtles and frogs, hiked and observed lichen and mosses, looked at the bark of trees to find what kind of tree it was...the list goes on.
When you catch the interest of your child in the things of nature, an interesting thing happens. They learn. In a relaxed way they begin to classify insects, and animals and plants and trees.
These two books by Edith Holden are treasures for seeing beautiful nature notebooks. I read about Edith Holden many years ago, and one day while in a used book store I came across both books for $2.00 each. These books were read and re read by Lindsay and sat upon her shelf for many years. I recently reclaimed "The Country Diary" and have now placed it on the bookcase in our hallway. It sits with open pages in a book holder so we can all see the beauty of nature all year. Right now this is the page that the book is open to.
Edith lived in England and I live in Pennsylvania so some of the things she observed are different that what we would find here but it doesn't matter. It is capturing the interest of my children, and causing them to want to learn about what they see. We put a bird feeder in the maple tree that is in view outside of our living room window. Daily we see the birds lining up for their turn at the feeder. We have observed many kinds of birds.
We have gotten away from keeping Nature Notebooks, but I am going to restart them with my children. I miss it.
I believe that to be really educated you must have a working knowledge of nature. How many of us who grew up in cities believed that plants that weren't planted by us in our flower beds, were just 'old weeds' and needed to be destroyed? Am I the only one?!
I have learned so much over the last several years about these 'weeds' that we see along the roadside now that I live in the country. I see jewel weed - great for poison ivy, plantain - amazing for drawing out venom from bee stings etc...and drawing out impurities in the skin. I see chicory - the roots of which can be used as a coffee substitute. They did this in the South during the Civil War and I believe that in New Orleans you can get chicory in your coffee along with your beignets.
Can you tell that this home educator has received an education herself? The joy and delight of home education!
An online resource for these photos can be found here.