Today’s Chat is with a mom who lives across the pond from us here in the States. She is a mom who has quite a love of exploring nature and shares that love with others!
Thanks so much, Lynn, for taking the time to chat with me! Tell us a little about your family.
Thank you, Bridgett! I live with my husband and two daughters in Lancashire, England. We live very close to the woods and walk there pretty much every day with our dog, Boomer.We also have a guinea pig, Prince Albert, and the latest addition to our family is our kitten, Tiny. My girls love to ride, and my eldest daughter will be starting college in September taking Equine Studies.
What was the journey that led you to Charlotte Mason?
I first came across the concept of home education when my eldest daughter was four months old. If I remember correctly, it was through a cloth nappy (diaper) yahoo group (anyone remember those?!). I began to look into educating at home and quickly discovered Miss Mason. This idea of nature study being a key part of a child’s education won my heart, and I began to read her books and discover more about her ideas.
You have a passion for nature study and nature journaling. What prompted you to dive deeper into understanding the Charlotte Mason way of nature study and journaling?
Miss Mason has been such an inspiring and challenging mentor to me. When I first began to find out about home education, nature study was a very unfashionable idea in English schools, and I wanted to find out so much about it. Miss Mason was the perfect voice to hear.
In our local Natural History Club that meets every month, I use some of the ideas found in your book Exploring Nature with Children to give me suggestions for object lessons. I really appreciate that you encourage the mother to study for herself using the Handbook of Nature Study! Why did you want write a curriculum about exploring nature, and what impact did you hope it would make on families?
Firstly, how thrilling to hear that you are using Exploring Nature With Children with your own nature group, Bridgett! I have people from all over the world writing to me to let me know how they have been using my book, and each time is such a blessing to me.
I decided to write my book because so many home educating parents that I spoke with wanted to have nature study happen for their own family, but it just wasn’t happening.They felt overwhelmed with the task of it. Perhaps it was something they hadn’t experienced themselves as a child, they just didn’t know how to go about it, or were struggling to make it happen regularly. There are some truly wonderful resources out there for nature study, but they can be a little overwhelming in themselves for the busy home educating parent. Nature study was being pushed to the back burner by all the other good things a parent needed to include in the homeschooling day, such as math, grammar, good literature, and so forth. I decided that what would help families the most would be to have a truly “open and go” curriculum for nature study. Something with no preparation that they can just open up at the current week and jump right in. There is nothing of this fashion on the market, which is what makes Exploring Nature With Children so unique and loved by so many families. It equips the parent to talk with their child about the natural world without having to wade through a stack of books first!
In your Facebook group you often encourage moms to “just keep trying” when it comes to the artistic side of journaling. We are often our worst critics! Why do you think it’s important for mothers to lead by example in journaling what they find in nature even when they feel their drawings are not what they want them to look like? (You’ll be speaking directly to me, haha!)
I think this applies to so many of us, Bridgett! I think people have a very wrong view of sketching; I know I certainly used to think this way myself! We see people who create lovely journals, and we think, “I could never do that.” We see lovely art work as a talent rather than a skill set. Of course, some people will have a natural, God-given bent, but that does not take away the hours, months, even years of practice a person has put into their art.
There are definite rules to drawing, just like there are rules with reading, for example. We would never tell a struggling reader, “Oh, you just aren’t talented at this; you can’t do it.” Yet this is what we say to ourselves all the time when we think we cannot draw or paint. Success at sketching involves discipline; it involves making time to sketch regularly. Five minutes each day will produce more fruit than an hour once a month.Essentially, you are training your eye to see. You must push on through the stage where nothing that you sketch looks like the subject! For a child to see their parent do this is a great moral lesson. For the child to see us struggle and not give up is a good thing. It is also a great reminder to the parent what it is like for the child who is learning new skills each day. I think we can forget sometimes just how frustrating it can be! It is also a wonderful reminder of how we can learn so much more by making mistakes. I urge all parents to keep a nature journal alongside their child; make this something special that you do together.
Do you have some favorite resources that you point moms to that help with the basics of drawing and painting?
Firstly, I always recommend the practice of “blind contour drawing.” This is simply the practice of drawing something that is in front of you without looking at your paper as you draw. I find it takes away the pressure to produce a pretty picture, whilst teaching the eye to really see.
A new and exceptional resource would be The Laws Guide To Nature Drawing and Journaling by John Muir Laws. This is such a smashing resource to be worked through at the reader’s own pace.
What’s the farthest you’ve ever been from home, and what did you do while there?
Hmm, I am quite the home bird and not really a traveller at all! I think perhaps the furthest would be Portugal, where I went with my husband for our honeymoon.
Oh, fun! I lived in Portugal for two years after college and fell in love with the country and the people! I do wish I had known about Mason back then and was more aware of nature like I am now. Oh, the beautiful landscapes I missed out on because I wasn’t observant!
Tell us, what’s something you like to do that some might consider old-fashioned?
What a smashing question!
I like to celebrate the turning of the year, in a liturgical sense, as well as the natural cycles. Observing the old, traditional feasts and festivals of the church year, such as Candlemas (the presentation of Jesus at the temple) and Michaelmas (the Feast day of St Michael and All Angels) is a practice I have kept for many years. It is something that we can do together as a family: reading the Bible stories, preparing special foods, sometimes crafting. It is an ‘old fashioned’ way to celebrate faith and have fun as a family.
You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color are you and why?
I have to pick just one–how difficult!
If I had to choose, I would say violet-blue, then I could be the same colour as the carpets of Bluebells that line the woodland near my home each spring-time.
© Answers 2017 Lynn Seddon
I’m so thankful Lynn took the time to Chat with me and share some of her story. Aren’t you encouraged to get out there and try to sketch what you see? I know that a nature notebook isn’t all about painting and can be mostly written observations and narrations, but it is fun to have some dry brush drawings in there. I’m one of those who needs to hone her skills! What about you? Have you given up sketching because it doesn’t look like what you’re eye is seeing? Have you gotten in the habit of sketching to brush up your skills?