Bringing Nature into Homeschooling

It’s been a while since I’ve written about our homeschool. Truth be told, I’ve been trying to get involved in the community which is like a full-time job when moving to a whole new part of the country. The actual family, spiritual, and academic-based homeschool has been put on the back burner in favor of seeking out community. We’ll certainly be taking time soon to focus on mastery of our material soon as I have filled our calendar and given the boys ample opportunity to make friends. I tried today to remember what we used to do… before I got sick and spent a year in bed? Before we moved half way across the country and I knew nobody? As I searched my internal rolodex of “how did I do this once?” I felt a bit of sorrow for myself. Moving to a new place really, truly sucked.

I have homeschooled my children for the better part of a decade. And for the first time since then, I have not been an active, functioning member of a support group with a place. With responsibilities. Moving to the Midwest away from everyone who knew us, I don’t have much of a place in the homeschool community.  Don’t get me wrong, we have made friends and enjoy the company of some especially kind people. The kids are building networks of friends here and there, and it’s what matters most. But… in an area where I was once, hmm, I guess the right word is useful, I now feel like I am another member in attendance of the homeschool show. I began this journey in Florida. All of my friends and the moms who began homeschooling with me, they are all in Florida. And I moved here, to Missouri, and feel bored. I have a million and one ideas and all of this energy and excitement that was once put to good use is temporarily put on hold. After trying many schedules, we found that homeschooling as a family 4 days a week and then joining the community one day a week is what works best for us. This has changed over the years as I added a child to the mix twice. We moved in Florida, but the homeschool community was so big and there was always room for everyone and their gifts and talents. I never had a problem finding a place with others to share mine.

Being a stay at home mama and a hs’er can be lonely and I find myself looking to my God as a reminder of my value and place in the world. Many days I feel like I need a giant framed degree on the wall telling everyone I am worth something. Looking back I see that finding others in our community to share life with was not only for the kids, but for me as well. If I can help out here or there, if I can be a part of something bigger than just myself, there’s a reason to get dressed each day. As I try my hardest to instill a love for people and animals and the earth itself in my boys, I long to contribute more to the world. Everyone has gifts and we are a diverse group of talented people here on earth. There is room for everyone. I think the hardest part of “fitting in” is finding the group or the community that has a desire, a need, or space for one to express their gifts. I have taught and led, and wrote curriculum for spiritual groups, for homeschool groups, and for groups found online. When it comes to educating my kids and the arena of education, I have never been involved with Nature Conservatories. During this leg of the journey I am dipping my toe into the community of naturalists and finding my place in this particular community. I am currently holding the title of a Naturalist and Conservationist and have been searching for a place to spread my wings a bit as I am first and foremost an educator at heart. It takes a committed focus on connecting children of the iPad generation with a forest. I hope to one day combine my homeschool communities with my nature conservatory communities. I don’t want to just show up. I want to help. I want to have that reason to get dressed each day.

Asking a child to slow down long enough to observe the bird learning to fly for the first time is no small feat for anyone, let alone those with passion. And, well, I think I have the desire and heart at this point in my homeschool to share this with my kids and others who are on this leg of the journey as well. As any naturalist/scientist will tell you, there can be no nature study or collection of naturalist experiences without a nature journal/notebook/log/diary. It’s not an “art” thing as much as it is a “science” thing. In order to enjoy nature, one must see and hear and notice nature. And then, the more natural beauty is noticed, the changes are noticed too. All the while a connection is being made. We connect with another species without disturbing it and enjoy it simply because it’s there and we live on the same earth together. Learning to keep a nature log is one of the most rewarding experiences a person can do… if given the time. Eventually through the observation and the notes & sketches, a person understands the particular piece of the world that couldn’t be understood simply by just walking by a “seeing” the thing. Eventually pages fill up and a world of trees, leaves, bugs, clouds, rocks and minerals, and flowers. And one’s world will never be the same again. To fall in love with creation is a beautiful experience… it was for me. To share the joy with my kids is beyond a gift. It’s like I’ve discovered a secret and all I want to do is share it and talk to others about the secret.

I am so grateful for the good that has come out of the move and getting sick. Had I not been forced to seek out a new life, I would have never discovered the world of Nature Conservation and the role it plays in my spiritual life, my family life, and our homeschool. I hope to move forward in finding others who will allow me in, just as I did those first few years of homeschooling. This weekend we are celebrating a huge milestone for Missouri’s Wildlife Conservation clubs and I’ll be introducing my children to some of the clubs and people who are changing the world through activism and passion. It’s a great time to be alive and homeschooling! Thanks for reading.

Have a Great Weekend Friends!

Love,

Jackie

 

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