Day by Day, Home ed ponderings, Nature study and science

Glimpses of our home ed days – Time outside – May 2021

Spending time in the great outdoors is a cornerstone of most home education philosophies and practice, from John Holt through to Charlotte Mason. For me, embarking upon our home ed journey with virtually no reading and research, it seemed a common sense approach. I remember a friend of mine telling me that small boys are like dogs…they need two good walks a day. As a new mum I took her words to heart and was out walking with our two little boys at least once a day, come rain or shine. In fact, once we’d got three meals and two snack times, and outdoor time morning and afternoon, there wasn’t much time for activities such as cooking and craft which my other friends seemed to be enjoying with their pre schoolers.

So, our patterns were set, and outdoor play and learning have always been an integral part of our home ed days. Before I share a few ways we’ve enjoyed the great outdoors over the years, I want to add a slight caveat. We live in the countryside, so can get to car free places very easily. I also had boys initially, who both loved/needed all the stimulation and exercise that the outdoors brings. For families living in more urban areas, getting a child to a safe place to play can be an achievement in itself. Add two or more small children, some reluctance and some rain, and it’s maybe not something you’re going to be enjoying every day. So, I think it’s about finding what fits best for each of our families, and understanding that too will change over the seasons.

We enjoy growing veg. Radishes can even be grown in a pot and produce some delicious crunchiness within weeks
We enjoy foraging. The recipe for elderflower cordial is here
Our children have rescued several birds over the years. This little sparrow lost his way in our polytunnel.
We learn so much by stopping to look closely at the beauty and intricate design of nature .
Rambles with our home ed friends are soul restoring in many ways.
Rope swings and bushcraft; the best classroom!
Wild and free kids; a place where friendships are made and boundaries expanded.
We occasionally cook a meal in the Dutch oven.
Children can spend hours splashing and paddling in water, whether it’s in wellie boots in winter or bare feet in summer.
A mud kitchen has provided much needed, if messy, sensory input
Camping in the garden is fun, even if it’s own beds at nighttime!
Kite flying is a family favourite.
Boarding the waves on the Cornish coast.
Our home ed group camping trip is a highlight of the year.
I love taking our morning books outdoors with a drink and snack.
We enjoy canoeing as a family, though don’t manage it nearly enough. This is Lanky Dude in Wales a couple of years ago.
Fun learning about catapillars and butterflies
We have a box with outdoor play equipment.
Three of our hens; the children all help looking after them, but I generally let them out in the mornings.
Together with friends we raise weaners most years; good for children to know where their food comes from.
A walk with Helen, my podcast buddy. The dog is hers, the girls are shared equally between us.
For all the years before GCSE’s hit us, we spent Fridays outdoors. It was our day to feed the pigs, then we did some work on the veg patch, walked in the woods, and used our lovely shed as a base. This was before Forest school became popular and I felt a bit guilty that we weren’t doing “real school”, so kept quite about our blissful outdoor Fridays. I’m so glad I followed my instincts as they were precious days and we did more real learning and relationship building than would ever be done in a classroom!
A childhood of exploring outdoors has produced adventurous and hardy teenagers.
And also an intrepid child…swimming in flood water in December!

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