Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Failed Attempt at Nature Study: What Would Charlotte Say?

We operate our homeschool in the Charlotte Mason method. Right now we are studying trees. After reading our selection about trees from our awesome living book, Trees and Shrubs by Arabella B.Buckley, I give an assignment.

The Assignment:
1. Put on your socks, shoes and a coat. Choose a warm one because you will be outside for 30 minutes.
2. Go outside and choose a tree.
3. Study this tree thoroughly (Were does it grow? How big is it? Do animals live in it? Are there leaves? How many branches? What color bark? Does it have sap? What shape are its leaves? etc.)
4. When I call you, come in and give me a thorough report about your tree. I will write down your statement, recording it in the family nature journal.

Here's what happened:
Minute 1- Child 1 and 3 fighting over the favored tree. I make child 3 choose another tree.
Minute 3- Pounding on the door and shouts of "We already know everything!" To which I reply "I don't think so, keep looking."
Minute 4- Youngest two "We're cold" they yell through the door. Yup, you guessed it. No coats. I instruct them to come in and get on a warm coat.
Minute 5- Insanely loud pounding on the door and shouts of "We're freezing!" to which I reply "It is January 24th and 60 degrees outside. I am sure you will live fifteen more minutes."
Minute 10- Second child has to pee. Doesn't return from the bathroom until minute 16.
Minute 15- Screaming noted in the side yard directed to a neighbor who is watching my house like the crazies live in it and wondering what kind of torture I'm performing on my pour innocent children. I hear "Mom is freezing us and won't let us inside."
Minute 16- Neighbor in my yard coaxing my distraught children. REALLY?
Minute 16!- I'm on porch calling children into the house and sending them to their beds.  Mommy needs to cool down.
Minute 31- Lesson a complete disaster! Son tore up bedroom, bullied and injured the youngest and threatened the frog all while in time out. I am in tears.

This, my friends, is supposed to be RELAXED homeschooling. Please, tell me what I'm doing wrong.

What would Charlotte say if she were here to coach me through my sudden desire to throw my little ingrates onto the yellow Shark (we call buses sharks) and whisk them off to Public School?

I believe in Charlotte's methods, study them. I believe that homeschool is the best choice for my family. I live by these values.
However, it just isn't as easy as following a curriculum, system, idea, or method. Children are human, free thinking individuals with minds of their own and plans that often differ (greatly) from ours. We, as homeschooling parents, are working with uncontrolled variables that can alter the outcome of our perfect lesson plans dramatically. Education (or the process of obtaining it) are not concrete. This is my dilemma. What would Charlotte say?


  1. She might say next time go outside with them that way the neighbor won't be so nosy. Also that you're doing a great job. They are learning, even if it's only that you need to wear coats in January. :-)

    I took the kids for a walk. Kenny couldn't wear long sleeves or he'd burn up. Sharon wouldn't wear a coat. Austin at least has a coat on. And we had one lady who was driving past us actually stop her car and stare at us as we walked past. All three were bickering the whole mile and a half, except for Sharon who cried at least half of the trip.

  2. Great point! I should really have gone outside with them. That would require me to be out of PJs and dressed though. That opens a whole other can of worms. Ha! So,I'm not alone trying to get my children to take pleasure in nature and experiencing tears along the way? That helps. :)

  3. I have come to the conclusion that tears are a natural part of the learning process. LOL

  4. My best advice...start with a shorter time and go outside with them. Don't give is worth the effort.