You Can’t Take ‘Nature’ out of Naturalist.

“Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.”

–John Lubbock

Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.

Spoken like a true naturalist.

My Naturalist appreciates the sentiment. I never would have taken this literally except I watched it happen with my daughter. In school, sitting in a chair for 8 hours, she learned nothing. Once I got her out of there, into the wide world where she could walk in nature and connect to the outdoors, her mind opened up. Even now, if she needs or wants to memorize something she finds a long fallen log somewhere in nature and walks up and down trying to keep her balance. Something about being outside and having to focus her mind on balancing also focuses her mind to learn and remember. Without the ability to be among nature she would lose her ability to focus in that way.

Her dyslexia made reading a slow and painful process, but she was always willing to work her way through reference materials about animals…and she reads much easier when she’s sitting under a tree.

Now that we’re ‘settled’ (ha!) here, I’m interested in getting the Kamana Naturalist Training Program. I’ve met a handful of people who have done it and who love it. They have programs for every age, but the teen program specifically is set up for this:

The Mission of the Wilderness Awareness Community School is to create an educational environment that helps homeschooled teenagers engage their natural intelligence and awakens their innate abilities to perceive and connect with the world around them.

Our students immerse themselves in intensive, experiential studies of nature from both scientific and indigenous perspectives. In this effort, our students are instructed and supported by a large, diverse community of mentors from all ages and walks of life.

What happens when young people expand their awareness of the world around them and pay attention to their inner voice, their intuition, and their heart is truly remarkable.

These students gain an understanding of the natural flow of things that puts them in better balance with themselves and the world around them. As their confidence grows, they find themselves firmly on the path towards developing into physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually centered people.

Over the course of a year, our teen wilderness course focuses on many topics, including:

Wilderness Living Skills
Mammals and Tracking
Birds and their Languages
Plants and their Uses
Aidless Navigation
Native Cultures
Trees and Survival
Ecology and Community

Another resource that takes the powerfully positive influence of nature on our kids seriously is the book Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder. It highlights not only how much we’ve lost by institutionalizing so much of learning in the classroom, but also how much there is to gain by re-exposing our kids to nature. It’s a great read!


5 Responses

  1. Sounds awesome!! I’ve always been like her – I don’t mind action/inside but never feel like I can think. But being outside makes everything come into balance, focus. Not all the stale artificial enclosure or something.

    There are some great programs like that in the midwest – can’t wait until boys are old enough.

  2. I love the book, Last Child in the Woods… it’s incredibly eye opening.

  3. I was just like Naturalist when I was a kid and did my best thinking when I was alone with nature. Whether it was the middle of the woods when we went camping or sitting in the small brush behind my house. If I had dirt and trees around me, I felt safer. So much safer than I ever felt in any classroom.

    And plus, we have our love of cloaks in common too!


  4. I am reading Last Child In the Woods right now as well. Great book, love it. It seems like I have come across the Kamana nature program before but never pursued it, so thanks for the link. This is something my boys would really enjoy I think. They LOVE living in the woods and nature is a HUGE part of our everyday learning. In fact, I think one of them just found a snake~ ack!

  5. I really enjoyed that book too.

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