Homeschooling, wildscholling, unschooling, forest schools, play-based learning, nature emersion, living books, nature study, loose parts, Montessori, Charlotte Mason, and on and on and on…
Do these terms mean anything to you? I’ve been coming across them a lot lately… maybe I’ve been spending too much time reading child development books and surfing the facebook feed. There’s a movement to bring more nature into our children’s lives and lessen our control over their learning processes.
That’s what all these terms have in common. They’re all philosophies, ideas, activities, ways of living, and methods of learning. And, they’re all words that hold a certain attraction for me.
I have a confession to make. I secretly wish I could homeschool my kids. I secretly envy those families who have had the time at home to foster closer relationships to their kids… families who have had the opportunity to nurture a healthy curiosity for playing in and learning from our surrounding natural world.
Sure, maybe it’s not all rainbows and cozy cuddles all the time, but my love-blinders are currently doing a good job of screening me from the reality that homeschooling families still have sibling rivalry to contend with, dirty laundry to tackle, and live within a device-addicted society.
Anyhow, as with any passion I arrive at, I’ve jumped right in. I’ve been reading and learning and exploring the world of child development, culture, and education in an effort to see the entire picture.
Now, combine this interest with my desire to help everyone create deeper connections with nature, and that brings me to the actual question I wanted to know more about.
What’s the relationship between kids and nature in the homeschooling family?
Book learning can only take you so far. I wanted to know about people’s experiences. So, I reached out on Facebook. I asked if some homeschooling parents would be willing to answer a few questions about this topic. Their answers were involved enough that I chose to divide the information into smaller consumable portions.
You’ll first hear about some philosophy and general attitudes towards nature and homeschooling.
In part two, you’ll hear some specifics around how parents include nature study and nature connections into their daily homeschooling routine.
Part 1: Exploring homeschool nature connections
Q: What value, if any, do you feel nature learning, nature exploration, and getting outside has in your family’s homeschooling?
A large part of our homeschooling philosophy is 'learning through living,' and exploring the outdoors is a big part of that. ~Jordan from DetoxandProsper.comClick To Tweet
A: “I feel that engaging with nature is an important and essential part of child development. By tuning in with his natural surroundings my son is able to better appreciate the environment and what our planet has to offer, as well as builds compassion and understanding in him to protect the resources and biodiversity of our world. It’s also a natural stress reliever. There is a physical and emotional difference in him between days he gets to spend outside and days where he’s been cooped up inside. Even just 20 minutes a day walking through the neighborhood or running around the yard gives him the air and stimulation he needs to better regulate throughout the day.” ~ Dani C. of CheersDani.com
Q: As a homeschooling parent, do you consciously include nature activities into your daily routine and do you think this would be different if you used the ‘standard’ school system (where they left the home everyday for schooling)?
A: “We started off this year taking my two older kids (6 and 4) to a private school. I was in the car an hour each morning, and then another hour in the afternoon. Just this December I decided I had had enough! The time spent in the car when we could be spending more time outside and having a healthy childhood in the fresh air was only one of the reasons I chose to homeschool for the remainder of the year and years to come, but it is an important one! There was no time outside at all at their school, as it was in a building in the middle of the city with no green space around it.” ~Carmela Cosgrove of The Well Seasoned Mama
Q: How do you include nature connections in your family’s homeschooling day?
A: “We follow a curriculum called “Lavender’s Blue Homeschool” https://www.lavendersbluehomeschool.com/about/ for the younger children (aged 2 and 3) but my 4 and 6 year old love to join in! It is all centered around the seasons! The crucial part of it is Circle Time each morning, with rhymes, finger plays, songs, and a story that all center around the season. So it makes you really connect with the outdoors right away in the morning, to start your day off talking about the beauty of the current season! Once the other subjects are done, we have free play outside for as long as possible each day, and sometimes also before we are done with the other work, as a welcome break!” ~ Carmela Cosgrove of The Well Seasoned Mama
A: “On top of intentionally making time to go outside every day, whether it’s wet and cold or dry and warm, we frequently check out books from the library about the world. This encompasses everything from seasons to different types of leaves to animals to water cycles; literally everything related to nature can be integrated into our kids’ lives via library books, then taken outside and applied to real life. We also make an effort to teach our son to cook and to recognize food sources. He helps regularly in the garden and when grocery shopping, which helps him understand food chains and necessities for plants to grow.” ~ Dani C of Cheers Dani
It is easy to see that for these three homeschooling moms, nature and homeschooling are closely intertwined. And maybe this is where my attraction to homeschooling really comes from.
Schools are increasingly putting more emphasis on early age performance scores, increasing instruction time, and decreasing access to outdoor play, free exploratory time, and risky activities. Yet, the homeschooling child is not caught up in this bureaucratic and systematic process. Instead, families are free to get outside and have nature nurture a child’s learning progression.
Dani, Carmela, and Jordan said so many things that resonated with the philosophy of Take Them Outside. I particularly want to reiterate the idea how nature learning and reading indoors directly impacts one’s interactions with nature in the outdoor world.
I do think that we can all learn from the above mom’s homeschooling philosophy of “learning through living”… regardless of what form of education our children are receiving.
Now that we’ve explored and heard about the relationship of kids, nature, and the homeschooling family, head over to the next part of the series where these moms will share how specifically they include nature in their homeschooling day.
If creating stronger nature connections is something you’d like to do more of, you may want to sign up for this 5 day mini-course. At the end of the week you’ll have been challenged to bring more nature into your home, take more notice of nature, interact and play with natural elements, and enjoy a family adventure outdoors.
P.S. I realize that interviewing 3 homeschooling parents is not going to give me the full picture. If you’re a homeschooling family and would also like to share your homeschool nature connection stories I’d love to hear them. Please feel free to add your thoughts to the comments below. Or you can get in contact with me and we can discuss more opportunities for you to share your own nature and homeschooling story on Take Them Outside.
I want to extend a thank you to the bloggers who assisted in putting this series together:
Jordan can be found on the blog Detox and Prosper.