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Attention: Nature Deficit Disorder!

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, April 23, 2007

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 8 No 32 April 23, 2007
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2007 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net

Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook!
If you like this newsletter, please recommend it to a friend!




Notes from Heather
-- Nature Deficit Disorder
Helpful Tips
-- Advice on Telescopes
Resource Review
-- Pocketful of Pinecones
Reader Question
-- Concerned about Gaps (2)
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

Attention: Nature Deficit Disorder!
by Heather Idoni, Editor


Did your kids get their Charlotte Mason recommended daily allowance of
4 to 6 hours of outdoor fun today?

No -- seriously!!

As a mom with 'digital age' sons, I was particularly captivated by an
article I recently read in a local health magazine, interviewing Richard
Louv, author of "Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from
Nature Deficit Disorder

Don't worry -- 'Nature Deficit Disorder' isn't actually a medical diag-
nosis. It's just the author's term for describing what he believes to
be the human cost of the increasing degrees of separation between
children and the natural world.

Interviewing over 3,000 children, parents, teachers and community
leaders, Louv was struck by the comment of a 4th grade boy:

"I like to play indoors 'cause that's where all the electrical outlets

According to the author, parents cite a number of reasons why their
children spend less time in nature than they themselves did when they
were young. Among these are disappearing access to natural areas,
competition from television and computers, dangerous traffic, more
homework and other time pressures.

When my own boys are outside playing, I feel like it is time well-spent
and I rarely interrupt them for anything, be it academics, practicing
piano, indoor chores, or even to eat! Nature inspires creativity in
children. It demands the use of all their senses. I see the effect
that outdoor exploration and play has on my kids, whether it is climbing
a tree, exploring the sparse wooded area around our property, or just
digging in the dirt. I feel less comfortable with that one child who
tends to remain inside playing a game on the computer -- the one whom
my husband has appropiately nicknamed 'houseplant'. ;-)

What are some of the consequences of living in an artificial environ-
ment, isolated from the experiences of nature? In his book, Louv has
identified a few of them. (As homeschooling parents who 'study' our own
children carefully, I'm sure we could come up with even more!)

1. Diminished use of the five senses.

2. Attention difficulties.

3. Higher rates of physical and emotional illness.

Hundreds of youngsters' comments confirmed Louv's belief that a sense
of wonder is missing from the lives of children who don't spend time
enjoying the outdoors. As a boy, the author personally had an intense
sense that nature was important to his well-being. He spent hours
exploring woods and farmland on the suburban edge of Kansas City.
Later in life, while researching for a book, he found himself listening
to parents describe their vague sense that something profound was
changing in the relationship between children and nature.

I agree with the premise that 'Nature Deficit Disorder' damages children
in ways that aren't really being measured... and this has the potential
to shape adults, families, and whole communities with a complete dis-
connect from nature. I believe it is happening right before our eyes
and we don't fully understand the implications! I think Charlotte
Mason's 4+ hour daily recommendation is really not all that far off,
either. And don't forget -- she encourages the parents to get out
there, too! ;-)

Did you have a disconnection from nature as a child? I know I did. I'm
thankful that my husband didn't, though. He introduced me to wild-
flowers, gardening, tree identification (I'm still not good at that!),
birdwatching, stargazing; he taught me to pick-up sweet smelling, sticky
Osage oranges off the ground for holiday arrangements, and to identify
sassafras for making tea from the roots. He taught me to bring nature
into the home. He is the one responsible for encouraging our sons to
enjoy nature -- taking them canoeing, hiking, and working with them in
the garden. I really believe his love for the out-of-doors has had a
profound effect on all my boys -- yes, even 'houseplant', who does come
along, though often against his will.

If this article has inspired you to do something about the symptoms of
'nature deficit disorder' in your own family, here is a good Charlotte
Mason-y website to give you some direction! It's loaded with great
ideas for integrating nature exploration/study into your child's life.


"Let [children] once get touch with nature, and a habit is formed which
will be a source of delight through his life." -- Charlotte Mason


I would LOVE to hear your comments on this article -- including your
own personal experiences! Please share!

Send your emails to: heather@familyclassroom.net



Helpful Tip

Save some money on stargazing!

[A member of our HomeschoolingBOYS.com group recently wrote in to
ask advice about a telescope purchase. I thought Martha's reply would
help other families to save money, too! -- Heather]

"I am not by any means an expert on this, but I asked my brother-in-law,
who is a little more knowledgeable (has astronomy as a hobby, has owned
several telescopes, etc.) about what to look for when I was interested
in buying one for my son. He said that a good set of binoculars is just
as useful as any of the cheaper telescopes. He told me to save my money,
use the binoculars, and if my son continues to enjoy stargazing, buy a
better telescope when he is older." -- Martha Yoder


Do you have an idea, experience, or tip to share? Please write!
Send to: HN-ideas@familyclassroom.net

Resource Review

[Editor's note: My very good friend, Jodi in Iowa, reminded me about
this resource which is a WONDERFUL introduction to nature study. I
thought it fit well with my article on 'Nature Deficit Disorder', so I
grabbed the review/description/link from CBD to share with you here!]

Pocketful of Pinecones: Nature Study with the Gentle Art of Learning
by Karen Andreola

Diaries are usually kept private -- but not this one! It reveals the
secret hopes, joys and disappointments one woman's experiences through-
out her first year of homeschooling. Filled with delightful quotes and
other tidbits, this book on 'the gentle art of learning' provides over
100 examples of what to look for on a nature walk, poems and questions
for your own homeschooling journey. More than heartwarming reading,
it offers both a practical guide to nature study and a little encourage-
ment for you. (A supplemental section features Charlotte Mason quota-
tions and suggestions for further reading.)

Quick link for more info:


Last Issue's Reader Question

[This issue I am rerunning last issue's question with all the rest
of the email replies we received from readers. Just couldn't fit
them all in last week and it was too hard to choose which ones to
include! :-) -- Heather]

Alisa in Michigan wrote...

"Help! Can anyone recommend a good but inexpensive curriculum I can
work from? I homeschool 4 children ages 6, 9, 11 & 13. After talking
to some of my friends whose children go to school, I'm worried that I
may be missing some things they may need to know. I worry that they
may be falling behind. It would even help if I just had guidelines
to go by. Currently I don't use a curriculum."

Our Readers' Responses

"My advice is for you not to compare your family to those who are in
public school.  Your children are learning in a totally different way!
 I have children ages 18 months, 4, 7, 10, and almost 12.  I don't use
a curriculum either.  I have been there!  If you bought a curriculum
for each of your children, you would spend a fortune and how would you
keep up???  Look to family, friends, and other homeschoolers nearby
for support, follow the links given by this great e-publication which
has served me really well (thanks!), and do lots of enriching family
activities.  Focus on having the best family you can have; children
are natural learners.  Also, recruit the older ones to teach the
younger ones the basics.  Go to the library a lot.  Observe, live,
and learn!  And LOVE!"


"You might try reading Susan Wise Bauer's 'The Well Trained Mind' for
guidelines. I have followed most of her suggestions for years with
my three children who are now ages 10, 13, and 16. When I first
discovered her book I devoured it over a weekend and by Monday began
implementing her suggestions. It revolutionized my homeschooling."
-- Kathy G.


"You are right -- they probably are missing some things they *need*
to know -- like how to deal with bullies, how to say no to drugs, sex
education at too early an age, etc. But really -- who is to say the
public schools' way of doing things is best? They don't have a very
good track record!

Gaps in children's learning will occur whether they are homeschooled,
go to private school, or public school. I am glad I am the one that
gets to pick the 'gaps' for my children. I say don't worry so much
and don't compare yourself or your children so much with others
(homeschooled or private/public). Do what is best for your children
for this year.

At home you can teach them the really important things like Bible,
manners, getting along with siblings, cooking, cleaning, good health
and hygiene, home repair, gardening, etc.

Have fun -- don't worry, pray, and ask God to help you do what is
best for your children!" -- Debbie P.


"First of all, I want to commend you for being a committed parent and
educator.  I completely sympathize with your feelings.  No parent
wants to think that their child is behind in any area, especially
academics.  However, it sounds as if you may be entering into 'panic
mode' as the April 16th issue of the newsletter mentioned.  Do you
truly feel in your heart that your children are falling behind or are
you responding to comments made by your friends?  How did you feel
about your children's progress prior to these conversations?  If you
were satisfied before, then I would hesitate to change anything simply
based on what you have heard others say.  Also, buying a boxed curri-
culum will not guarantee that your children will be learning the same
things their public school counterparts are.

If what you desire is guidelines, these can be easily obtained by
searching the internet. One resource that I found very helpful was
the World Book Encyclopedia website.  They have a typical course of
study for each grade level that is simple and easy to follow.  If you
want your children to stay on track with the public schools, you may be
able to obtain the course of study that the school system uses by going
to their website.  I did this as well.  I went on our county school
system's website and was able to print out their course of study as
well as the extended curriculum for each subject.  I have to admit,
I didn't use much from it because I am not overly concerned with stay-
ing in line with public school teachings.  However, it did give me an
idea as to what they expected their students to learn.  I would like
to encourage you to listen to your heart and your children more than
any other outside source.  I know God will honor your obedience and
give you the direction you need in this matter." -- Jennifer in NC


"While I think finding the right curriculum is often a very personal
thing, because you know your children better than anyone else, I do
think the curriculum by 'My Father's World' is a great fit for many
learning styles, and for a one room school house setup that is manage-
able for our busy lives. http://www.mfwbooks.com/index.htm

They have a wonderful user group that is so helpful to answer questions,
with a link from that website. The curriculum is very thorough, yet
inexpensive compared to many. They do make good use of the library
and other resources, such as books you may already have at home. The
deluxe sets include everything critical to the success of the program
except math and language arts. They do recommend programs for those,
and they are available for purchase from MFW." -- Pam


"Alisa -- You can find a 'Scope and Sequence' in almost any homeschool-
ing catalog.  Abeka, SonLight, and Alpha Omega are a few good places
to start and you can get their catalogs for free just by requesting
them. I recommend you check out Tammy Duby's website, www.tobinslab.com.
  She has a great article called, 'GASP!  Am I leaving GAPS?'  I believe
she also teaches her children by other means than curriculum.  You are
exercising great liberty in homeschooling your kids without curriculum!
  It would be a great danger for you to begin comparing your methods to
that of the public school's method.  I want to encourage you NOT to get
caught in that trap!  Be free, fellow homeschooler!" -- Noreen   


"I use a variety of resources.  I do use some specific curriculums, but
other subjects are more eclectic.  I would suggest an internet search
for 'homeschool curriculum' for an overview of what is available.
  Another source is a wonderful book 'Homeschool Your Child for Free',
which contains 'more than 1,200 smart, effective, and practical
resources for home education on the internet and beyond'; it is
published by Prima Publishing - www.primalifestyles.com - but is
available through other venues, as well." Sherry A.


"Christian Cottage is great. it is a unit study, but it has all the
reference materials and maps and everything. It is great for multi-kids
because it is also divided into age groups. There are 4 volumes amd
each volume is only $75. These cover everything but math and grammar.

The website is www.christiancottage.com. They have an oceanography
unit you can download and try for free. We have 8 or 9 people just in
my support group that use it and we all love it! There are 2 email
groups for support, ideas and links." -- Shannon in SC


"If I had one thing to say to a concerned homeschooling mom is, 'They
will get it'.
They will learn to read, write and do math.  They will learn history;
but honestly how much history do you remember from your schooling?
My focus and goals are:  My children's relationship with God, me
(and my husband), and each other; basic knowledge of the Bible, their
character. And lastly I work on their basic skills... reading, writing
and math.
Do I NOT do science, history, phonics, etc.? NO... I do them.  But I
try to remember my focus. To understand more about God's design you
learn science.  To understand God's plan for your future, you learn
history, etc.
My children will not remember every fact I teach them.  And I can't
teach them every fact out there.  But with these focuses and goals
I can teach them basic skills and about God.  They can learn everything
they need to know and my children won't miss the important things.
Psalm 111:10 says 'The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
 all who follow his precepts have good understanding.  To him belongs
eternal praise'.
Now back to answer your question. For curriculum I use SOW - Student
of the Word - www.sowcurriculum.com - and I use a lot of Cindy
Rushton's ideas -- http://www.cindyrushton.com -- in her 'Homeschool-
ing The Easy Way' manual." -- Sher B.

Answer our NEW Question

"Hello and thank you in advance!  I know next to nothing about eating
naturally, herbal remedies, or when to use lavender or echinacea or
anything else.  We eat lots of grains, veggies, fruit, and home-raised
beef and chicken, though.  I don't have the time to devote to an
in-depth education on the subject. (Imagine that?!)  My children are
10, 9, 7, 5, 3, and 10 months... and I officially homeschool the four
oldest.  I am now wondering if there isn't some basic book on nutrition
 and wellness from a Christian perspective that I could go through with
my oldest children as part of their curriculum so that we could all
learn together?  Help!  Thanks!" -- Jill in Florida


Do you have a good recommendation or other ideas for Jill?

Please send your answer to: HN-answers@familyclassroom.net


Do you have a question you would like our readers to answer?

Send it to HN-questions@familyclassroom.net and we'll see
if we can help you out in a future issue!

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Tags: nature studies, Charlotte Mason, nature journaling, outdoor time, cheap telescope, binoculars, Karen Andreola, cheap inexpensive homeschool curriculum, Susan Wise Bauer, Well Trained Mind, homeschooling gaps, My Father's World, Christian Cottage

Next - Reader Feedback, Homeschool Country Living, Teaching Natural Health
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