A Nature Journal

09 March 2020


Thank you to everyone who commented on my last post,  I am humbled by your kind and thoughtful words.  I love all the suggestions you made, it is exactly what I hoped would come out of these posts.  I do hope these conversations will continue for months to come.



One of the topics in that post was learning, regular readers here will know that this is a big part of my life as we home educate our children, the day to day responsibility for this falls to me.  Cameron was recently asked by someone if being home educated was better than being at school, he had no idea how to answer this as he has never attended school.  I often get asked what we do each day and how education looks in our house.  When people say to me that they could never teach their children the things they need to know for their exams (in the UK these are taken at 16 and 18) I usually keep quiet and maybe smile as they chatter on.



I realise that, like anything in life, when you have little or no experience of something it is hard to imagine what it is like.  I can offer you snippets here but unless you were to become a fly on the wall in my house it is hard to give a complete picture.  My idea of what learning and an education can and should look like have shifted all over the place in the last eleven years, back at the beginning I had images in my head, partly from things that I had read and from my own experience, of what I thought we should get up to.  The reality has been completely different and most, if not all, of those ideas have been quietly shelved and not returned to.


Learning is not something we do intentionally, we don't sit and have times when we learn and times when we don't.  It is a part of our everyday life along with eating, sleeping etc.  In the past, we have spent most mornings working on things for a set amount of time, I have prepared things for the children to get on with.  That worked for a time but we have stopped that now, that is the beauty of it you can tailor it to your life, your needs and your children's needs at any given time, another home educator would tell you a very different story of their journey and what home educating looks like in their home.



About five years ago we were offered the opportunity to attend a forest school.  It was being run by a home educating mum on land belonging to a friend.  It was free and we were responsible for our own children.  The mum running it had recently moved to the area and was trying to find her feet in the forest school world here, she had decided she would not pay for insurance yet, hence us needing to be around and stay for the sessions.   We all loved it.  We went for two years, whatever the weather, until sadly it had to stop.  I thought about trying to do something nearer to us, but knew it would not be the same, sometimes good things come to an end and are replaced by other good things which are often completely different.



Whilst we didn't continue with a forest school we did carry on with one of the elements of it.  We would have a theme each week, one that was chosen by the children themselves based on the seasons and our local environment.  Each family would have a particular role to fulfil to carry that theme and we had a forest school book to record what we had done and found out.  Cameron and Alice loved it when it was our turn to bring the book home and complete the page on behalf of the group.  They loved it so much that that was the one thing they kept asking if we could carrying on doing when the group folded.  Once I found the right book, it had to be the same as the one we had used at forest school, we made a start.  I mentioned it here and had visions that I would continue to do so, but seven months later I stopped blogging for three years so it trundled on unrecorded on here. Four years later, almost to the day, we filled the last page of seventy in our nature journal.  Each topic was chosen by one of us in turn, we would spend two weeks working on it, the first doing the research and writing some of it up and the second finishing it off and illustrating.  In the early days we would also spend the rest of the day going for a walk to find what we were learning about in the wild, this has happened less lately as our week has become filled with other activities.  We still walk, a lot, just not on the same day.



I am not usually one for turning learning into a tick box exercise.  However if I was to look at this project, which has resulted in a rather wonderful journal, along the way we have leant, writing first in capitals then cursive/joined up, how to use an index in a book, reading, how to choose the words that we want to include in our journal, drawing, painting, observation skills as we went and found each subject in the wild where possible, Latin names and Linnaeus classification including kingdoms, class, order, species and families, measurements in metric and imperial and being able to visualise the sizes, life cycles, the seasons, the differences between deciduous and coniferous trees, identifying trees in Winter, and many more which I am sure that I have missed.  They are all equally important to help to cement a life long passion for not only for the outdoors but learning too.


We love the book we have created so much that we are going to start another, we are waiting for them to come back in stock and then we will be off and again we have no idea where it will take us.

Apologies once again for a very long post.

30 comments:

  1. That's such a lovely project, and something that can continue for as long as you want it to, that's the beauty of learning, you never run out of things to learn about. I'm always interested to hear about people's home schooling experiences, I seem to hear about more and more people choosing to home educate.

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    1. Thank you Jo! I love that learning is a journey that never ends. I also love that my children tell me about things that I know nothing about.

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  2. What a fabulous journal you have created and how much pleasure, enjoyment and learning has gone on alongside. An appreciation and understanding of nature is so important, if we are to take better care of the world and something that is sadly lacking in mainstream education as a whole, although things may be slowly changing (I'd like to think so).
    Best wishes
    Ellie

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    1. Thank you Ellie. You are right that an appreciation of nature is really important, it was a big part of my life when growing up in a town surrounded by housing and buildings. I hope things change in education too, taking care of the world should be high up on the agenda.

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  3. How wonderful, it's a thing of beauty indeed. I'm a huge fan of home schooling, it seems such a brilliant way to learn. School is honestly a jungle at times, stressful, much time wasted hanging around and often failing children, as teachers don't turn up repeatedly - something my eldest had, that has really affected his education.

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    1. Hi CJ and welcome! I am sorry to hear that you have had such a difficult time with your children's schooling, it must be so worrying.

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  4. Your family nature book is wonderful. Not only is it a useful resource for information but also an important keeper of memories. I love how you each contribute to an entry (as seen by different handwriting). I hope the new books are in stock for you soon so that you can continue documenting your nature study.

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    1. It is so many things Christina, the memories interwoven into its pages are particularly special for me.

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  5. I love this so much! We used to have little notebooks like this scattered all over the house...my daughter was forever jotting things down in handy books from our various rambles. I miss those days...but have such fond memories of them.

    I love how you describe your home education -- ours was/is much the same....and it's difficult, if not impossible, to explain it to someone who doesn't know. I always get asked "well, what grade are they in, then?" -- which, of course, I can't truly answer because we've never followed a particular curriculum. It has very much been an evolving creature.

    xo

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    1. Thank you Mel. You are right it is so hard to describe how your home education works, like you I get asked which year they are in and I usually have no idea. I have no idea what their peers would be doing at school.

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  6. Fascinating post. Those journals are real keepsakes, a treasure when they are older and have children of their own. I never home-schooled my sons--there wasn't really such a thing when my older sons where school-age and my youngest, 13 years behind his brother, needed school for socialization as we live in a remote area, and I was working and going to college while he was young. But I think perhaps he would have been better off if home-schooled in many respects. At one time we were snowed in for over a month with my older boys (the bus was stopping 4 miles away and our vehicle had a broken axle so we were stuck. Plus 10 foot drifts on our road, etc). We managed to get their schoolbooks somehow and they worked at home. By the time they returned to school they were way ahead of their classes. I think living out here helped a great deal with their education. They learned work and responsibility, goal-setting and mission, along with the lessons of nature via gardens, livestock, crops, hunting, woodcrafting, etc. It has all stood by them well, as they are all successful in their chosen fields.

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    1. An education can take many forms but we seemed to have gotten ourselves into this position of thinking that it has to be a certain way and that way is the only right way. I am not surprised that your son was ahead after not being able to get to school for some time. I have often heard that you only need to do an hour or two of 1:1 at home to give a child the same education time they get in a school setting!

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  7. I think what you do with your kids is wonderful. My children did go to school but we did so much on our own after school and during the summers. They have fond memories of how involved I was with their curiosity and comment on it now as young adults. It never occurred to me to homeschool, I might have liked it.

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    1. I think you would have been amazing at it Karen! It sounds to me like you found the perfect balance of having your children in school but also doing so much learning at home as well. So many seem to rely totally on the school and nothing happens at home at all, not only is this sad for these children but it also means that they come to see a division between learning and the rest of life.

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  8. I love this idea and your book. My children are grown with children of their own, but I'm thinking this is something I can do with my grandchildren.

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    1. I am glad it has inspire you Debi. Have fun!

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  9. This is so wonderful and thank you for sharing the book, it's beautiful. X

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  10. What a lovely record you can all keep forever. :) X

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    1. It is indeed, I hope that we will keep looking back at it for years to come.

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  11. I'm sure your children are receiving a far superior education to what they would get at school. I just loved this book, beautiful, I will have to start one with Littl'urchin.xxx

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    1. That is so kind of you to say so. I do hope you have fun creating such a book with your granddaughter.

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  12. We are so happy that our youngest 'grand,' is being home schooled. At this time of COVID-19 worry.

    Wonderful what you are doing.

    Stay safe!
    Courage!
    🍃 🌱 🌷 🌱 🍃

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  13. What a wonderful collaborative project and I have no doubt your children will learn so much more from something like this than sitting in a classroom where it really is a case of ticking boxes. Really interesting post!

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    1. Sadly school has become about ticking boxes you are right.

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  14. Aw such a beautiful representation of a learning journey, you all should be rightly proud of your efforts. Hope you have as much fun with book number two :-) xx

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    1. Thank you San, I do hope book two is every bit as fun!

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  15. What an absolutely gorgeous book and such a treasure to keep. It has given me inspiration for some home schooling ideas for the coming months!

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    1. Thank you and I am glad that it has inspired you to have a go at something similar.

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