Nature basket: Reverance for nature
Nature Study is an important part of our homeschool. It has added so much value to our day. Let me take you a few years behind and share how it has evolved for me. I was doing it for quite sometime without having a format or a name for it. I have boys and it was more of a necessity back then, just to get them in the fresh air and let them play in the open.
Someone had mentioned that children need to be outdoors especially boys, I think at that time the younger one was just an infant so It was more for my older one who is a very active child. I always felt there was something charming about being outdoors. When we lived in Pennsylvania we would spend our time outside as much as we could in the warmer months but the winters were dreadful and I concluded that these children were benefiting from being outdoors in ways I cannot understand because they always seemed calmer, lessons went smoother and I felt better too.
The place where we lived had so much natural beauty and gradually an appreciation and love grew in my heart. We would watch birds, deers, and look for prints in the snow, we caught bugs all kinds of them and observed them. We had so many opportunities to explore nature like we learnt about beekeeping, visited aviaries, we did a field trip to see the maple trees and how maple syrup is made. We went to the zoo and a personal favorite was this place where you could get up close to the animals and feed them. It was such a gem and we would frequent it.
In the winter months, these kids would play with natural materials like sand and water indoors, I had learnt it from the books I read on Maria Montessori where natural materials were emphasized. Over the years this frequency of going out and spending a good hour or two became the norm. The science lessons would also compel me to go out and explore and it was always an opening point for discussions and child led learning.
Another benefit I felt was spiritual. It was nourishing to reflect on the beauty and order in the creation and contemplate about the ‘Creator’. It would take my stress away because I felt that someone powerful, someone intelligent is in control of my affairs and He can take care of me and my family and I would feel that my burdens have lightened for me after every walk.
My health dramatically improved too once we got into a routine of daily hikes/biking.
Then I discovered the Charlotte mason’s ‘home education’ and that really gave me a structure and a method. Her book gave me a lot of confidence because it perfectly matched the way I think of science and the manner in which I taught my boys which always seemed to conflict with the readymade curricula. I took the advice in her works and started doing journaling and art more intentionally.
For the last three years, my children have taken classes at different nature centers where they hiked and explored weekly. I would enjoy this time in the natural surroundings too and my love for nature Study continued to grow. I guess it’s intrinsic in us to love nature but in my case It had to be rediscovered because my entire childhood was disconnected from nature. I grew up in a busy crowded city and there were not any real opportunities to explore nature.
I still remember in sixth grade, our school organized a nature camp to a small village near a hill station. We stayed in this beautiful rustic home which sat on top of a hill, it had no electricity, a windmill in the back and everything worked on renewable sources of energy. It was surreal. We had to dig up potatoes and cook them, we ate mulberries directly from the trees. I somehow remember every little detail of that trip. It is possible to remember things and I have a good memory for the most part but to remember every single detail is rare. I know it must have been a special experience for me.
With time, I improved and learned from watching the naturists at different programs and these beautiful books I had discovered. The world is really filled with wonder. Last year we did unit study on ‘minerals and rocks’ and also on ‘astronomy’ both an extension of nature study. At every step of the way, it has been awe inspiring. Now after every walk, I return with a heart full of gratitude feeling spiritually fulfilled, emotionally recharged to deal with these little people and physically rejuvenated and alive. It’s my favorite part of the day!
Now coming back to the nature basket, this had its own evolution and now it is finally a very pretty basket sitting on a very pretty shelf(We made it ourselves!) and we really enjoy looking at it. I am so glad I read this book on how children get indirect messages from us based on what we hold dear even in the physical sense. Ever since it became a priority to display these treasures in a beautiful way. Once our shelves were built this beautiful basket which used to sit on top of my bookcase came on the lowest shelf at eye level for the kids to enjoy.