Evaluating our School Year: Nature Study

This post is part of a series I'm doing as a way to evaluate our school year. I am covering each subject, describing what we did; what worked for us and what didn't work; and detailing any changes I plan to make. I find this process so helpful as I finish out our year and before I begin to plan for our next year.  (I realize many of you have started school already and are beyond this point, as am I, but it's taken me longer than I thought to finish this series, and I'm determined to finish!)


If you're just joining us for this series, so far these are the topics I've covered:
Bible Time
Memory Work [with links to all other memory work posts]
Picture Study
Composer Study
Nature Study
The birdfeeder right outside our kitchen window that gets lots of visitors

We have done a lot of Nature Study over the years, [<<clicking on that link will take you to other posts I've written on the topic] but this past year was not one of those years.  *grimace*

This is why: It always feels like such a monumental task to me.  It takes a big chunk of time-- to get all five kids out the door for a walk, plus the journals and pencils and paints, and then the question of where to actually go, and then to time it "right" with either the weather or our schedule or both...?  It just feels so BIG and wearisome.

When it appeared on the schedule this past year, I often thought, "Ugh.  That will take hours, and then we won't be able to get to A, B and C that still await on the schedule...."  As if it's taking away time from doing "real school".  So I frequently skipped it. 

Or occasionally I did this:  "Everyone, head outside with your nature journals.  Find something in the yard to draw!"  But it was a half-hearted effort, and by the end of the year I had dropped it from the schedule entirely.
An injured bird we took care of in the house for a day.

Here's the thing: the kids noticed.  They missed it.  They actually LOVE the walks, observing and discovering new things.  It's one of their favorite things.  Perhaps in part due to the fact that we have spent other years focusing on Nature Study, they love God's creation, and they truly take great delight in it.  Ella has spent a good deal of her late-summer hours, collecting seeds, labeling them and setting them aside for next year's planting.  She is my gardener extraordinaire, and knows a good deal about all the things growing and moving in our yard and garden.  Isaac is often outside, watching the ants, the spiders or some other creature.  He learns a fact about any thing, and he remembers it.  He's like a little encyclopedia.  Isaias is interested in everything; how it grows; how it changes.  He is naturally curious about it all.  Adelia wants no part in any of it. ;)  She may get out the door, but then she'll groan and moan about not wanting to do this.  Audra is just as fascinated with bugs and spiders as the boys are, and has containers everywhere of things she has collected.  And she wants to draw everything in sight.  I forget that Nature Study is a worthy pursuit; that it is something in our schedule that causes us to pause and marvel at all that God has created.

I have this idea that we are going to devote one day a week to just this.  And block out several hours to make this happen.  This will be hard for me.  Generally I have bread rising or dinner in the works or Things To Do That Seem More Important.  BUT.  It is important.  And my kids love it.  And it is good for ALL OF US to get out of the house and explore God's creation.  So that's the plan.  We'll see if this happens, or how often it happens.

Ella, holding a bird that had a broken wing or foot (I forget which)

1 comment:

  1. I so get nature study being pushed off to the side. This year, I am also making it intentional -- I hope! I bought a guide to help me called Exploring Nature with Children :)


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