For the past two years I have been providing almost weekly challenges for families to complete in their own backyards. There are so many different kinds of families that participate on varying levels. I have come to appreciate that for many families nature study, for a variety of reasons, goes in cycles. The interest may always be there but the time available or the energy that can be spared to complete weekly nature study fluctuates with the week, month, and season.
It is very much the same in our family. Although it may appear that we spend lots of time in nature study, in reality we spend small snatches of time just about each week enjoying the outdoors of our backyard and local area.
I found the following quote to be very encouraging and I am sharing it with you so that you too may be encouraged in some way.
"The great danger that besets the teacher just beginning nature study is too much teaching, and too many subjects. In my own work I would rather a child spent one term finding out how one spider builds its orb web than that he should study a dozen different species of spiders. If the teacher at the end of the year has opened the child's mind and heart in two or three directions nature-ward, she has done enough."Can you feel the weights being lifted and the pressure coming off? She is giving us a vote of confidence if we can look back over time and see that we have helped our children to appreciate only a handful of things in nature over the past term. Anna Botsford Comstock knew that nature study was something that could done without spending oodles of time on lessons and books.
Anna Botsford Comstock, Suggestions for Nature Study Work
She also says in the same work quoted above, "Nature study should be a matter of observation on the part of the pupils." Notice that she did not say reading lessons, filling in notebooks, or keeping collections. Observation was the key. How simple it is for us to provide the opportunity for observations of nature in our weekly schedule. We can all take a short walk outdoors and do some observations with our children.
This particular article has encouraged me this week. I know that many people look forward to our weekly challenges and the pressure for me to come up with new subjects is overwhelming sometimes. I need to step back and remember that if all we did was go outside, take a few minutes to do some observations, and then talk to our children about the experience, it would be enough.
Here are a few posts that you may be interested in reading that can help you get started with a simple program of nature study in your family.
Nature Study the Gentle Way
How to Naturally Share Nature Study with your Children
Nature Study in Ripples
Thanks again to Anna Botsford Comstock for her well spoken words from a century ago.
Barb-Harmony Art Mom