This post is written by Kelli Becton of Adventures In ChildRearing
One of the most exciting things about homeschooling, is the ability to create environments which inspire learning in our children. They have so much fun – they don’t even realize how much they are learning. These experiences can even lead to much deeper learning during a more structured “sit down” school time, if need be.
Most likely, no matter where you live, you’ll be able to find parks, ponds, lakes, beaches, woods, or rivers where you can explore the beauty of God’s creation and use nature to inspire learning.
It’s important to share your excitement and interest in nature and to introduce the idea of “exploring” early on. You don’t have to be an outdoor enthusiast, or an expert outdoorsman in order to effectively help your kids learn about wildlife. All it takes is a desire on your part and an enthusiastic attitude. Your excitement will be contagious and your parental bonds will be strengthened as you begin to slow down and simply take a closer look around you.
You don’t need expensive tools or equipment to do this, or exotic locations either. You can generate an intense desire to learn while viewing deer grazing in a field, dolphins jumping in the water, or by finding an apple snail. Large or small – all creatures in God’s creation are wonderful.
Studying wildlife and nature can mean both plants and animals and any of them can inspire your children to have a desire to learn more. When was the last time you slowed down during an outdoor family walk to take a close and careful look at the petals of a wildflower? Have you stopped in your tracks to listen together at the hoot of an owl?
You can inspire learning as easily as doing this type of thing, and then following it by looking up the animal or plant in a field or nature journal. Identify it, and read more about it. Discuss the habitat it lives in and the area where it was spotted. Was it in it’s natural habitat at the time or had it traveled away from it’s home territory? Make note of these things in simple nature journals – notebooks or binders. Ask questions – you don’t need to know all the answers! Part of the fun is finding out theses things – together.
Use thought provoking statements such as “I wonder if it is large for it’s species or average in size” or something like “Why do you think it needs large claws like that?” to induce further discussion with the family.
Add another layer of depth to your studies by using museums and library services for further exploration. Teach your children to look up the information for themselves as it becomes age appropriate. The more often your family takes part in this type of learning together, the quicker you will hit your stride and find out more about what works best for your crew.
Make it fun, share the excitement and get out to explore together and you will inspire learning – together – with your children!
Have you gotten outdoors for some family learning lately? If so – share with us where you like to go –