At the beginning of the school year I made a few goals for our first homeschooling experience. It’s a unique opportunity and something I don’t want to squander. At the same time, it took a while to set a realistic pace for myself as an educator. We aren’t following a set curriculum right now, but we have an overarching idea of how we want this experience to be. I also check back in with our state standards frequently. It’s not required, and it’s not something I use to model our day. I just want to have an idea of the things she should be able to do if she ever does go back to traditional school. I don’t want her to be behind in anything just because I didn’t pay attention.
So our goals for home learning with the kids are: fostering free creative expression, recognizing different methods of storytelling, computer and internet literacy, and above all enmeshing our lives in nature and science.
A firm grasp on natural history is probably my biggest goal for my kids. I believe that if you make natural history an important part of your lives and discussions, kids instinctively build a base of knowledge, point of view, and understanding. It’s a value system.
If my kids grow up and can recognize plants and habitats by name, build a fire or identify wild foods, collect and purify water, build a shelter or track an animal, I will consider that a huge educational success. I want them to be able to enter a forest and know what plants and fungi to avoid, what will sustain them, and what these species mean for the forest. I think these skills are important for them in the future world, far more than most things kids are traditionally learning. Most of all, I just want them to feel a connection to nature and empathy for it.
I hope we can live in the forest one day and they can learn a piece of land intimately. For now, we just spend as much time as we can outside in woods, wetlands, beaches, creeks, etc. I bring field guides and binoculars and if it feels right we take time together to learn new plants and animals. I’m constantly pointing things out. This was my job and passion for almost my whole life before I had children. I’m actually trained for very little other than teaching kids about the forest and it’s deeply important to me. Thankfully, they love it. They are both so comfortable outside and curious about what they find. Fern is making big connections and has found her own voice in conservation.