Let [children] once get touch (sic) with nature, and a habit is formed which will be a source of delight through his life.” --Home Education, pg. 61
“We must assist the child to educate himself on Nature’s lines, and we must take care not to supplant and crowd out Nature and her methods with that which we call education. Object-lessons should be incidental; and this is where the family enjoys a great advantage over the school. The child who finds that wonderful and beautiful object, a “paper” wasp’s nest…has his lesson on the spot from father or mother.” –Parents and Children, pg. 182
“…It is unnecessary in the family to give an exhaustive examination to every object…” --Parents and Children, pg. 183
Now, my parents had never heard of Charlotte Mason and I was not homeschooled, but they definitely were in sync with her idea of Nature Study. It really started with my beloved Grandpa. My Grandpa grew up in the hills of Southern MO. The kind of place where it is beyond dark when there is no moon because of the shadow of the hills. As a boy he ran all over those hills, sometimes for fun and often out of necessity. For him understanding nature was not only a way of life, but necessary for survival. As a parent he imparted a great deal of this knowledge to my father and my father to me. And the most fun was walking in the woods with both of them! This is how it would go. We walk along a trail and just as a part of conversation I'd hear, "there's a Sassafras tree...look at that red squirrel...there goes a rabbit must have a nest nearby...." It was all just a part of the conversation, something interesting to look at and talk about. Not a stilted lesson on nature but the passing of knowledge nonetheless.
When my husband and I were discussing having children he said, "I want you to teach them all about plants." I was surprised as I had never thought of myself as knowing all about plants. And truthfully I don't know all about them, but as my children grew and we went on the walks that I loved to go on I found myself pointing out things just as my Grandfather and father had. It had become a part of who I was. As Miss Mason says "a habit" had been formed. And I'm so thankful that God blessed me with people in my life who gave me the habit because it has been a source of endless delight.
So the nature walks and the interest in nature were "natural" to me (hee, hee, couldn't help myself). But the second part of Miss Mason's philosophy on nature study was not. That being the nature notebook, a place for a child (or adults) to draw and write observations. A journal of their observations. So, I took the easy way out as I always do. I bought a blank page notebook and set it down in front of my daughter who loves to draw and said, "this is for you to draw pictures of things you see in nature." And when we are looking out the window in winter at birds as we love to do I'll say, "wow, you should draw that in your nature notebook," and she will. Then I'll say, "you should write the name and the date that you saw it so you don't forget," and she will. Now, I rarely have to prompt her (following Miss Mason's idea that the parent should be involved in this process only a little) as she loves to do it and she enjoys looking back and saying, "oh remember when we saw that turtle?" or "here's the groundhog we saw that day!" Simple really.
So it really is as simple as that. Give your children time out of doors. Share your own love of nature with them, but give them time and space to make that love their own. Provide them with paper and time to record the things they see. It's a very praiseworthy endeavor.
Look here to see how another mother implements Charlotte Mason's Nature Study