Like many of you, our Wildsight educators and staff have recently added a new role to their parenting resumes—homeschooler. As parents, you already teach your kids a lot. Adding official homeschool teacher to your list can be a rewarding, albeit, daunting experience. Remember to be gentle on yourselves. We’re all going through an extremely stressful and vulnerable time, but we will come out the other side. Keep the learning fun, connect it to the place around you, and remember to pat yourself on the back—you’ve got this!
Here are some tips and tricks from the Wildsight Educator team we hope will help connect you and your family to the one of the best teachers out there: nature.
Jess Williams, Rossland, B.C.
Juggling working from home and homeschooling her three girls (8, 6 and 3), Jess definitely has her hands full. Her biggest tip: keep it simple, especially with young learners. Here’s one simple way her family is using nature as a teacher at their house.
Using different size spoons (teaspoons all the way up to large soup ladles) kids collect nature items relative to their size of spoon. They can bring these items back to the designated spot and start a collection. This collection can then be put into order of smallest to largest, colour schemes, or created into a piece of nature art. The kids love the challenge of not “spilling” their items out of the spoons while making their way back to the collection spot.
Dave Quinn, Kimberley B.C.
Wildsight educator Dave Quinn says homeschool shines for inquiry based learning— follow your child’s lead with what they want to learn about and give them time to explore these topics. And don’t stress about “getting things done”. Leave lots of time for kids to play, have regular recess, snack breaks, lunch, outside time etc.
Dave and his family made bread and yogurt from scratch (lots of reading and math in this one, plus some gratuitous punching and kneading which kids love).
Get some homeschool spirit going with a homeschool name and sign that your kids create. Have fun with it. At the Quinn house, their homeschool name is Bandito Squirrels Homeschool Academy – his kids love squirrels!
Carrie Ferguson, Golden B.C
Carrie Ferguson’s homeschool family loves to use nature as a guide to connect learning to curriculum and place.
Two of their favourite activities are using Nature Frames and Nature Journaling to connect to their wild backyard. The beauty of this activity is that if accessing the outdoors isn’t available right now, you can do it just by looking out the window! Here’s how:
Make a nature frame (this can be an old picture frame with the backing and glass removed or you can make a frame from cardboard.) Using the frame, ask your child to “zoom” in on one area and journal about what they see. Connect it to math by counting the different colours and species of plants or living things they see in their frame.
Earth Art—Inspired by Andy Goldsworthy’s art, Carrie and her seven-year-old son got artistic with the lingering snow in their yard. This could also be done with pinecones, rocks, leaves—the possibilities are endless!
Janelle Park, Fernie B.C.
Teacher, environmental educator, and mom of two kids aged 6 and 7, Janelle knows a thing or two about multi-tasking and leaning on nature for learning opportunities. Using familiar school language such as “recess” and “brain break” are helping her kiddos adjust to their home classroom environment. She also strongly encourages being gentle on yourselves and letting the outdoors do the hard work for you.
If it’s available for your family, go on an adventure walk. Let your kids lead the way. Stop often to observe and “wonder” what’s happening in nature today. How is it different from yesterday? What do you think it will look like tomorrow? What animals do you think might live here? Our children’s wonders and questions are a perfect segue into fabulous, inquiry-based learning opportunities.
Ayla Bennett, Fernie, B.C.
Ayla is a seasoned homeschooler to her kids aged 3 and 7. Ayla’s biggest tip to parents out there right now is to not get hung up on academics and learning outcomes. Let nature do what it does best—comfort and connect us when we need it most.
Use a simple nature scavenger hunt to guide your next walk, or if you can’t get outside, create a list of nature nuggets that your kids can see or hear from the window. How many different bird songs can you hear? What do you think their different calls mean? Are they saying good morning? Or maybe warning of a predator? Have your kids play nature “I Spy” —what living thing can you see that is green? Yellow? Purple?
In a time where many businesses and organizations have had to close their doors, nature remains “open”. And it is our best ally right now in providing grounding and comfort in an uncomfortable time.
We have an entire web page dedicated to education at home. Visit it today!