Why We Include Nature Study and Journaling in our Homeschool
Your children will only have one childhood. Let’s make it one of exploration and wonder at the world around them. One way we encourage this in our home is by including nature study. Here are five reasons to include nature study and nature journaling in your child’s education.
1. Studying nature teaches our children more about their Creator.
We live in a wonderful world full of the beauty of God’s creation. As we learn more about the world around us, we learn more about the character of God. We learn about His creativity, His wisdom, and His greatness.
When we guide our children to observe the beauty of a sunset or the intricacies of a snowflake, it allows us to teach them that there is a Creator who is far greater than they are, and yet He delights to fill their days with good things.
2. We study nature because children learn best by doing.
In the early years, children learn best by hands-on experience. Words mean little to those who have not yet experienced the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings those words represent.
In the words of Charlotte Mason,
Lessons which deal with words, only the signs of things, (emphasis mine) are not what the child wants. There is no knowledge so appropriate to the early years of a child as that of the name and look and behavior in situ [on location] of every natural object he can get at. “He hath so done His marvelous works that they ought to be had in remembrance.”
We older people…get most of our knowledge through the medium of words. We set the child to learn in the same way, and find him dull and slow… But set him face to face with a thing, and he is twenty times as quick as you are in knowledge about it; knowledge of things flies to the mind of a child as steel filings to magnet.”
3. We study nature because children are made to wonder and so remind us again of the miracle of the world around us.
We grown-ups often forget the miracles of nature around us. Having a child with us to explore those miracles, lets us once again become a child and marvel with them at the transformations taking place around us.
“One of the secrets of the educator is to present nothing as stale knowledge, but to put himself in the position of the child, and wonder and admire with him: for every common miracle which the child sees with his own eyes makes of him for the moment another Newton.” (Charlotte Mason)
4. Studying nature and recording their observations develops traits in children that sets them up to be successful in the future.
Consider what an unequaled mental training the child-naturalist is getting for any study or calling under the sun– the powers of attention, of discrimination, of patient pursuit… what will they not fit him for?” (Charlotte Mason)
And here is a more recent quote from Amy Tan about nature journaling.
Scientific research proves that active learning through nature journaling can change the brain and boost intelligence. It makes sense. If kids are free to wonder aloud without feeling dumb or tested, they remain engaged. If they are happy in what they are doing, their attention span grows. By noticing how they feel when they experience something new, they absorb ideas more quickly. By being excited with what they’ve created, their memory expands and becomes the wellspring for future learning.
5. We study nature because it is commanded in Scripture.
The Bible tells us to “consider the lilies, how they grow.” This doesn’t just mean “give them a passing thought” as we often take it to mean.
Webster’s 1828 dictionary says that the literal sense of the word consider is “to to sit by or close, or to set the mind or the eye to; hence, to view or examine with attention.”
It then gives this definition.
To fix the mind on, with a view to a careful examination; to think on with care; to ponder; to study; to meditate on.
That is what we are aiming to do with nature study. Sit next to. Observe. Meditate on.
How do you include nature study in your homeschool?
Do you need ideas for nature study?
I’m in the process of creating a year’s worth of nature calendars that gives you nature study ideas for every day of the year. Pick an activity and watch your children’s eyes light up as they experience nature hands-on.