We’re visiting four home educators to observe how nature is studied within their homes. Today, we visit Tracey from Wild Heart Homeschool in WA.
My husband and I have always loved being out in nature. As often as we could (before children), we’d pack up the 4wd Ute and set off on a nature expedition. We’d spend days, sometimes weeks exploring our homeland’s coast, forests and caves, marveling at the diverse flora and fauna. One time we ended up across the border at The Great Australian Bight! What an adventure!
It wasn’t until our first born child was a toddler that I started to recognize the benefits of nature play.
If he was in a cranky mood, I’d take him into the garden and his energy would shift completely. I saw how curious he was about the natural world and how it enlivened his senses. The sensation of sand through his fingers, the sound of leaves crunching between his chubby little fingers (or teeth!), the smell of roses, the way the petals could be plucked, squished and then thrown into the air with sheer delight, the sweet taste of fresh fruit picked from the tree. It was in these moments of simplistic joy that I realised that nature would be an essential ingredient in his development.
As my boy grew, his love of nature deepened and we went on many more adventures. He’s a real wild, outdoorsy, adventurous boy and his need for freedom instigated our homeschooling journey. I love that homeschooling allows us to both spend more time studying nature. We enjoy recording our experiences and discoveries in a nature journal and I’ve found that in keeping my own journal, my son is inspired to record his findings too.
Our days typically include time in the garden, connecting with our animals and plants – I like to involve my children in all aspects of gardening. We usually go on a bush walk too. I love to be really present on our walks. Stopping to look deeply at flowers, seeing what’s underneath the bark of a tree, listening to the bird calls.
Once we’re home, we add our favourite findings to our nature table. Some of our favourites pieces include red and black cockatoo feathers, pine cones, pressed flowers, purple gum leaves, cicada shells, snake skin, sea sponges, abalone shells and a paper wasp nest. Our dead insect and spider collection is growing too! I quite like having a collection of curiosities as they spark interest, questions and a respect for the diversity of nature.
Underlying all of our schooling is a deep respect for the natural world – we are all connected – and I believe that connecting children with nature is the first step in helping them understand how precious our living world really is. In the words of Roald Dahl, “Somewhere within all of us is the power to change the world,” and this is one of the ways that I know how.
Hi! I’m Tracey, mama to two little wild hearts. I’ve been homeschooling my eldest for the past year, and as a family, we are completely inspired by the natural world!
You can follow Tracey’s journey at Wild Heart Homeschool and Instagram @runwildheart.