Catholic Homeschooling

As you probably already know I am a big fan of nature study for young kids in the homeschool curriculum. There are obviously many benefits that I have discussed in other posts about nature study. Kids learn not only scientific knowledge, but nature study can also improve communication and artistic skills. It teaches them patience and self control as well as respect for the environment. Nature study also encourages a healthy lifestyle by getting kids outside and actively moving while learning. Perhaps most importantly though is that nature study teaches us about God.

Kluane National Park
“Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” Psalm 90:2

While God may not be the first thing that comes to mind when we talk about nature study how nature teaches us about God is perhaps the most important thing we learn when we take our kids outside. And I say we because this one is as much for the grown ups as it is for the kids.

“Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. ”

Romans 1:20

So much of our knowledge of history and the people who came before us comes from simply observing the creations of people the past. Their art, their writings, their everyday objects all tell us who they were and what they believed. So then it seems sensible that when we talk of God, the Creator of all things, we can learn so much about Him from His creation.

This notion is nothing new. Great saints throughout history have found a deep closeness with God when out in nature. In particular Pope Saint John Paul II loved the outdoors. Before he became pope the young priest, then known as Fr. Karol Wojtyla, would teach young people about God by taking them on wilderness excursions. In this article I read that George Weigel recalled Pope Saint John Paul II telling him, “If you speak with most popes, they’ll say that they received their formation from seminary. I, however, received my formation by bringing young people into the wilderness.”

That’s pretty amazing to read. I mean if a saint like JPII was formed bringing young people into the wilderness then surely we too can grow closer to God when taking our young ones out for nature study. God created this world and that creation is, in itself, a wealth of information about the Creator Himself.

“Nature therefore becomes a Gospel that speaks to us of God: ‘For from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator’ (Wis 13:5). “

Pope Saint John Paul II The Great, General AUdience January 26, 2000

In the past month driving across the North American continent and now quarantining in a cabin in Alaska I have been awestruck by how magnificent God is to have created such a place as this planet for us. Nature Study is not merely about identifying plants and animals. It’s more about realizing how great nature is and how much God loves us to entrust this planet to us. So don’t let nature study slide off your schedule.

To learn more about Nature Study and how to include it in your homeschool please visit one of my other articles on the topic:

About Mary

Mary Stephens holds a degree in international affairs from Georgetown University and a Masters in Teaching from the American University. Mary spent almost twenty years homeschooling her four children and is now navigating post homeschool life in Alaska. She offers personal insights, recipes, homeschooling tips and tricks and travel advice on her website penciltreks.com. Mary also owns Christopher Travel, a luxury travel company specializing in exquisite vacations around the globe.

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