Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Nature Curriculum

I think it's very important that parents actively seek to educate their children. The schools can only do so much and parents need to take over where the schools leave off with supplemental activities. It's easy to teach children about the things that the parents enjoy. For me, it's easy to teach my girls the value of an item on sale or shopping at the thrift store. It's also pretty easy for me to talk to them about reading, history, social studies, and human behavior.

As I've mentioned before, science is not my strong point and so I believe that I need to look for additional opportunities to seek out ways to teach my children about science in an age-appropriate way.

I also have a deep, deep love for homeschooling and homeschoolers. I think it's incredibly cool whenever parents go against the tide to do what they believe is best for their children, provided that they don't let their own biases get in the way. While we don't plan to homeschool our children, we are definitely open to it if that is what our children might need. Heck, I'm open to darn near anything if it would be the best thing for my child. With this latest idea that I've cooked up, I fancy myself an after-school homeschooler ! I'd love to take it a step further and try to do some pre- and post- teaching before and after our nature outings, but let's not get too crazy here.

The impetus for this newest idea was simple: exposure. Beezus and Ramona had the occasion recently to attend a birthday party at a nature center. Man, the "lesson" led by the naturalist was great. It was a beautiful day outside and as we walked on the trail and Beezus spotted some frogs in the water, I reflected on how I want more of this for my girls. I was glancing at the center's calendar and noticed that they have several programs on Saturday mornings. Darn, I thought, the girls start gymnastics on Saturday mornings next week.

As we were driving home I was thinking about those Saturday mornings again. See, I signed up the girls for gymnastics because it was at a great time mid-morning that would allow me to go to Jazzercise, come home and shower, then take them to gymnastics, and still have time for a trip to the playground, farmer's market (or chick-fil-a) on the way home. This would leave Mr. Q. with a couple free hours to take up his running again. It was a great plan and I was patting myself on the back for figuring it out.

One problem though. Gymnastics take place inside. Nature is generally found outside. Fall weekends are generally gorgeous. Winter weekends are cold.

You see where I'm going ?

Sigh. My choice became clear. Cancel gymnastics for the September-October session, sign up for nature programs. Re-sign up for gymnastics that start the 2nd weekend of November. Saturday mornings from now through November 6th are going to be nature time.

Then, I thought about the criteria for the nature programs I would want to do. I thought I'd start my search with the programs that are close by and/or cheap, then expand out to those programs that aren't close by but that our friends might do, and then look into more expensive programs.

So, that's what I'm working on now. I've printed out the calendars for the nature center that had the birthday party as well as 3-4 other nature centers that are within a 30 minute drive. It seems like most of those programs have an indoor and an outdoor component. I'll fill the calendar with those, then look at nature centers near our friends' houses or at Discovery Creek.

Once I exhaust those lists I'll plug in a couple pumpkin-patch type visits (not exactly nature, but still fun) and I suspect the calendar will be full. I should probably have a couple indoor nature options in case there's rain, so I'll have to think on that.

I think I might commit to posting a review of sorts about our outings. Would be good fodder for NaBloPoMo now that I think about it !


Rachel et Natalie said...

walks in the wood is a wonderful way for our girls to discover what's around them.
Saturday mornings are always too short indeed

{sue} said...

We are doing supplemental homeschooling in the mornings. How funny that today was a science lesson and we took a nature walk. Which involved me dragging and eventually carrying my student through the "woods" to look for things while she whined to just sit and "take a break." (We were less than a block from home, by the way. Ha.) Maybe I should try gymnastics.

Herself said...

Would love to read all about this and would definitely love to go with you and the kiddos.

Laurie said...

We do as many programs at the Gulf Branch and Long Branch nature centers as we possibly can during the week and then an occasional one on the weekend. Just registered for the next term, and am pondering the apple cidar making session if you're interested.

dc604 said...

just meet me at the arboretum - fern valley rocks!

dc604 said...

roosevelt island too

dc604 said...

savage park, md

Anonymous said...

Ooh, what a wonderful idea! We've been spending afterschool afternoons in the garden and nearby woods ... maybe you and Sue and Stimey and I and your wonderful readers could meet up at one of those nature centers together! Fun, no?

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