Today, as part of the year-long blog series I shall be running this year, it is my great pleasure to share an interview with Dawn from Ladydusk here at Raising Little Shoots. Dawn home educates her three children, and has been blogging since 2001! She also works as a Virtual Assistant for Pam Barnhill as her team’s Community Care Coordinator. So without further ado, on to the interview:
~ Hello Dawn, I am delighted to have you here on Raising Little Shoots! Please could you tell us a little about yourself.
Hi Lynn! I’m delighted to be here! I’m a Christian homeschooling mom to three always-homeschooled children ages 9, 11, and 12. We use the AmblesideOnline curriculum and enjoy it very much. We live in Central Ohio in the United States. Both my husband, Jason, and I are native Ohioans, although he is from a different part of the state while I live close to where I grew up. I love to read and to blog and write about Homeschooling. I’m not very outdoorsy. I dislike bugs and dirt and intemperate weather, and in Ohio we get wide swings of either too hot or too cold.
~ When did your first begin nature study and what got you started?
It has been a number of years since we began and we’re very uneven with our Nature Study. I found our old, incomplete books for this interview and they say 2011 on the back. One of my intentions every year (and 2017 is no different) is to spend more time doing Nature Study. Since I learned about it in our early years of homeschooling, I thought it sounded like a good means to get me to go outside more and I really wanted my kids to have all the benefits of Nature Study. In particular, I wanted them to observe and know the world around them; to see the natural processes that God had created.
~ Please tell us about how you make opportunities for your family to enjoy spending time in nature.
We generally take our Nature Study materials with us when Jason drags us out geocaching. A couple of years ago we made Nature Study Bags to carry our gear. Some of the straps need to be lengthened and/or repaired, but the bags themselves have been helpful in carrying notebooks and collecting specimens for observation.
Last summer we were able to take a Nature Journaling class on vacation at the local Nature Center. It was very good. One of the things the instructor suggested was using a black pen to do the drawing and then watercolor pencils for filling it later. I also really love Nature Journaling on vacation. It is so much more relaxing to me because I can usually go off by myself and draw at some point.
Last fall we participated, for the first time, in the Nature Pal Exchange program here in the States. We were paired with a family from Louisiana who sent us some wonderful treasures. It was fun to compare and contrast the items we received with the items we gathered to send. This forced us to be out and observe, collect, and identify samples. Accountability seems to be a key for me. I had to send something to someone else, so it had to get done.
This winter, I’m hoping to make plans with another local Charlotte Mason family who we do some school things with already to get together to look at specimens or go out adventuring together on Friday afternoons. I think that would be a lot of fun and, again, scheduled accountability is helpful!
One of the things I’ve been learning in this process is that you don’t have to draw in the field. With three elementary aged kids, drawing in the field can be difficult. Often mine want to get it done quickly so they slapdash something into their notebook and run off to play. The idea that we could enjoy nature, play, and draw at home (not sitting on the ground or balancing a book in my lap) was a big eye-opener to me last fall. You can, of course, draw on site but there are a lot of ways to Nature Journal at home. We can collect samples and draw them later or just put them in a basket to look through at leisure. You can take pictures of something you want to draw and then draw it from the picture. Or, you can just be a peace and observe a creature and its behavior and then at home find a picture in a nature guide or on the internet to record the event – draw from the picture you found and then note any similarities or differences you find.
~ Would you share some of your favourite pages from your family’s nature journals with us, and let us know what you like about them?
My son was probably 5 when he drew and labeled these and they’re just so sweet … Honeysuckle and all.
I love this bird’s big feet and beak. My oldest daughter drew this when she probably was 6 or so. I’ve done a bad job of dating them.
The next three are from our class last summer … my daughters liked the pen while my son eschewed it. My oldest drew an egret, son drew the oak leaf, my youngest tried out some of the spectacular spider webs, local lighthouse and the shore line.
The last two are favorites of mine. The first is near home. We have a rookery – or rather a heronry were a whole colony of blue herons have their nests. It’s a spectacular sight!
And one of mine from vacation. There is a walk back into an Estuary that has brackish water on the sound side of the Outer Banks in North Carolina. I drew this view from the end of the boardwalk where the Estuarine connects to the sound and across to the mainland. I like it because of the variety. You’ll note that I enjoy a lot of labeling and adding notes to my drawings.
~ What would you say you have been the greatest benefits to spending time out of doors with your family?
One thing I love is that it forces me to put the phone or book down and be very present with my kids. We look, we talk, we question, we gather. Sometimes we struggle with complaining and arguing. Sometimes the weather is unpleasant. Sometimes we trudge along. Sometimes we see beautiful things and exclaim about them together. But the best part of Nature Study is going outside and being together.
~ What advice would you give to other families who would like to spend more time in nature?
All of you should have your own materials to enjoy. You, mom, should draw too. Let them slapdash something while you’re out, but I’m excited about trying some of the ‘drawing later’ ideas I’ve been learning about – and will expect more concentration and effort when there are chairs and tables involved. But, my best advice is to find a friend and plan to do it together so it will happen.
~ Where can we find you on the internet?
You can find my blog and all my social media connections over at Ladydusk Thanks for inviting me to participate. I love doing interviews because it makes me really think through what we do and why. Your questions were great!
A huge thank you Dawn, for sharing your family’s journey with us.