Thursday, November 11, 2010

Unschooled Nature Study

The idea of unschooling fascinates me although I highly doubt I'd ever be brave enough to do it fully.  I love the Charlotte Mason methodology of short lesson plans and a big focus on nature and the outdoors.  To me it is the perfect combination of structured study and student, desire-led study.  Any homeschooling I do, I want there to be ample free time left for my kids to just be kids and to explore the world on their own terms and pursue their own interests.

With the change of temperatures outside, we have had a few cool "visitors".  The other day, a ladybug joined us for breakfast.  Both kids climbed up on the table to get a closer look.  Anna pulled out her magnifying glass.  Nate observed from a distance but did not want the bug to go near him!  Anna on the other hand, was delighted that the ladybug decided to crawl on her hand and arm.  She declared that the ladybug was her "bestest friend in the whole wide world" and Nate blew kisses towards the bug.  Anyway, we spent a good 10 minutes (eternity to young preschoolers!) examining and interacting with this ladybug and then Anna released her to the wilds of the front porch.  Very cool.

Later that same day, I walked into the kitchen to see a spider dangling mid-air from the ceiling.  I quickly called the kids in to see and asked how they thought that spider was "floating" there like that.  Anna figured it out immediately and was quite fascinated.  Nate again kept a safe distance and felt quite relieved when the spider made a hasty retreat back up to the ceiling. 

A few weeks ago, someone spilled some Coke and didn't clean it up properly.  Anna and I noticed a straight line of ants walking along the baseboard from the front door to the sticky pop drop on the floor.  We spent some time studying how the ants walked in a straight line and stayed close to the wall.  We also studied how they grouped together into a mass on top of the pop drip. 

Nature study in the comfort of our home. 

Thus far, Nate hasn't showed too much interest in nature or bugs.  He likes trucks.  And trains.  And "mighty machines".  And tools.  Today, I showed him a YouTube video of a freight train.  He screamed with joy.  Literally screamed.  And then demanded more.  And more.  And more.  He watched a good 15 minutes of video of freight trains going past intersections.  He was thrilled. 

I have a feeling, I'll have to keep my computer hidden for awhile unless I am willing to watch railroad crossings over and over and over.  His enthusiasm was adorable.

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