Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Nature Study by Accident

We walked to the park near our house yesterday, enjoying the crisp new autumn air.

I parked the dog and myself on a bench and settled in to watch the children play on the playground while I sat and contemplated some of the deeper subjects in life. (Not really. I was just too lazy to get up and go down the slide with them.) Chloe went down a slide, swung on the monkey bars a time or two, and then gave up on the pointlessness of a playground and went off in search of something more interesting.

She found it in a puddle. We've had some rain lately, a novelty when you live in the desert as we do. So puddles are a rarity and can provide splendid entertainment for a child like Chloe.

I love that she's like that - she'd rather be poking and prodding in a puddle than playing on a playground. It's one of my favorite aspects of her personality.

There were some sort of living organisms in the puddle that twitched and turned and wiggled when she poked them with sticks. I tried to explain to her that they were mosquito larvae, but she didn't seem grossed out by that like I was. Like any normal person would be.

She sat there, squatted down with her hair almost dipping into the puddle, picking out bits of grass and bark, measuring the depth of the puddle with a stick, stirring the water just to see what happened.

That's homeschool. Charlotte Mason called it a "Nature Study". This is great proof that you don't need woods nearby for a hike to study nature - it can be found next to the playground at a city park.

When we came home I handed her a notebooking page and asked her to draw the puddle and write a few sentences about what she saw. She drew the picture... and then tried to weasel her way out of the writing. I insisted that she do it though, and she did. But it made me think - what am I doing to her genuine and honest and simple love of nature by forcing a writing project and notebooking page out of her choice to sit and study that puddle? Being the overzealous new-to-homeschooling mom that I am, I jump on every single opportunity for learning and try to turn it into "school". Writing those sentences in her notebook didn't teach her a darn thing, except that maybe if she keeps showing an interest in things like that, Mom's gonna keep making her write about it, so maybe she should stop picking random bits of nature to study.

There comes a point when a homeschooling mother needs to learn how to just let something educational be that way on it's own. That puddle didn't need my help to teach her anything, it did just fine on it's own.

No comments: