I’ve subscribed to all the best nature study blogs and read them faithfully every week. I click on all the forum threads about nature study and soak up the wisdom. I even have a nature study Pinterest board pinned with all the coolest things.
I have yearned for the perfect resource to get me off my bottom, out the door with my kids, and engaged in a meaningful way with nature. It’s time, though, I face the cold, hard truth. I am just not a naturalist.
I largely think this has to do with the fact that I really don’t like to be outdoors all that much. I mean, sure, give me a hammock, a book, a glass of sweet tea, and a non-humid 75-degree-day, and I’ll be outdoors all you want.
Start adding heat, humidity, cold (below 60), bugs, poison ivy, snakes, anything remotely icky, or requiring more than moderate physical effort, then no thanks. I’ll just stay inside.
So I have come to the conclusion that I am a nature study drop-out (even though one can make a great argument that I never really started in the first place).
If there is a child, though, who leans the other way as an outdoor-lover, I am determined that my attitudes and actions not stymie their love of the outdoors.
My mother loves the outdoors and prefers to be there over anywhere. When I was a kid she sent me outside until dark and took me camping and fishing. It wasn’t for lack of effort on her part that I ended up this way.
What I am not going to do (even inadvertently) is discourage the kid, who might be predisposed to be more like GG instead of mom, from enjoying nature just because I don’t.
So here are a few ideas I have come up with to make nature study more tolerable and doable for me, so we just don’t throw it over altogether:
The older kids are signed up for two nature day-camps each this spring. They will also be attending week-long camps at our local nature park this summer. As long as they are interested in attending, we will encourage them to go.
My goal is to seek out opportunities for them to participate in on a regular basis. Maybe then they will have memories of all of the nature activities they did and somehow forget they didn’t do them with me.
I really like to look at nature things from the comfort of my home. So far from our windows we have seen squirrels, chipmunks, a hawk, cardinals, and any number of unnamed birds that I really should look up in the birding guide.
I point them out to the kids every time. We look things up online and read books about them. I even pull out the camera and the long lens to get shots. That’s my kind of nature study there.
Do It My Way
I like to take pictures instead of sketch. I prefer to put them in a blog instead of in a book. If any of the kids express an interest in sketching or keeping a written journal, I will do everything in my power to help them.
In the meantime, I think it is pretty futile to get them to enjoy something I don’t even like myself. As beautiful as those sketched pages look, I am not so sure that Charlotte Mason herself would have hit the trail without her camera, iPad, and field guide app if she lived today. She was a pretty forward-thinking kind of gal.
Just Do It Anyway
Then there is this. Some days I just need to get out and walk in the woods, the park, the yard, anywhere. Even if I can’t name all the things we see or know anything about what we find, just the fact that we are outside together experiencing wonder has to count for something.
So my goal is to just do it two or three times a month. No plans, no units, no journaling — just a walk to see what is out there and enjoy each others’ company. If I don’t give up, maybe one day I’ll get lucky and they’ll start teaching me something.
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