How to Grow a Naturalist in 5 Easy Steps

Feb 16, 2015

Do you have a child who loves exploring nature? Here are 5 tips for growing a naturalist.

Does your child love being outdoors? Does she collect caterpillars with the intent of raising them? Does he like to help in the garden? You may have a naturalist on your hands.

What is a naturalist? 

A naturalist is a person who studies plants and animals and, I would add, is passionate about nature. 

Anyone can be a naturalist. 

How to Grow a Naturalist in 5 Easy Steps

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Take nature walks.

Nature walks are an important part of keeping our kids connected to nature. Taking regular walks during which you observe the world around you rejuvenates your spirit, leads to teachable moments, and helps your child appreciate the world around him. 

All you need is a few tips for a successful nature walk mixed with a few creative ideas and you're well on your way! 

Have discussions about nature.

Whether you homeschool or not, discussing nature in casual conversation is an excellent way to instill a deep appreciation in your children. 

In our home, for instance, there is a strong focus on living in harmony with nature. We've always had conversations about how plants are here to beautify the earth, but also how they're here to serve as medicine. My kids know the medicinal benefits and uses of plants.

We've observed how animals birth, feed and raise their young. We've noted how similar that is to the way women have traditionally raised their own. 

"However, ask, please, the animals, and they will instruct you; Also the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you. Or give consideration to the earth, and it will instruct you; And the fish of the sea will declare it to you." - Job 12:7,8

We live, not just a 'green' lifestyle, but it's a deep, forest-green. We're always aware of our impact on everything and everyone. I owned a green cleaning service, so my children learned all the whys and hows of that. I took them out to clean up rivers and beaches with the local conservation group. The adult kids have taken these things with them, applying the things they learned as kids.

I'm not saying everyone has to live green, homebirth, or use herbal medicine. What I'm saying is this: 

Make discussions about nature - what you've seen, heard, discovered - a part of your casual conversations. This knowledge will become a part of your child.

Conduct nature studies.

Again, you don't have to be a homeschooler to do this. Weekends are wonderful for studying nature! Taking hides, documenting what you see in the backyard or on a nature walk - all very easy to do. If you're unsure about how to conduct nature studies, I encourage you to look into NaturExplorers. These nature unit studies are easy to follow and teach your child across the curriculum. 

Make learning about nature a part of your child's play time.

Kids love to play and playing is how they learn. It is their 'work.' When learning and play come together, amazing things happen. So make learning about their surroundings a game. You'll find a lot of ideas here. And there are some scavenger hunt ideas here.

You can also visit natural history museums or take a field trip to a rock and mineral museum. Even a science museum will offer information on nature like growing gardens with hydroponics, how electricity works, where rain comes from and so much more. The possibilities are endless.

Encourage your child's interests.

If they bring home sticks, rocks and bugs, don't freak out at them. They're making connections with the world around them. A little nature in the house will build their immune system, so let them play and collect!

If they want to raise a caterpillar, involve yourself in the process. Help them look up what type of caterpillar it is and what it will grow to be. Find out how to care for it properly. (I did all this with Lorelai when she was 8 years old. She was raising a giant leopard moth.)

Give them words of encouragement and expressions of appreciation. You may be raising a casual naturalist. You may just have an entomologist or mineralogist on your hands.

Humans have a natural connection and interest in the world around them. Some of them have a passion for it. Encourage it. We need more people like that.

What tips do you have for growing a naturalist? Share them in the comments.

Hop over iHomeschool Network, where you'll find 
18 other bloggers sharing their tips on Growing a Success.
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  1. Thank you. My 5 year old son has recently expressed great interest in animals specifically bugs and fish. Is 5 too young to start these ideas? He will be starting homeschool kindergarten in August.

    1. Five is definitely not too young. I don't necessarily recommend formal lessons, but exploring the outdoors is what five-year-olds do naturally. Follow some of my links in this post for fun nature ideas.

  2. I found this post on Pinterest! I love what you've shared, and our family is fulfilling step 1 well. I aspire to the rest and just started contributing nature/kid posts @
    Thank you for being such a great resource and nature encourager!
    PS Anna, five is a fabulous age to explore the outdoors!

    1. Hello, Lee! Glad to see you're making attempts to connect to nature. Every little bit counts.

  3. This is lovely. I am growing a naturalist and we do everything you listed :-) Thank you for sharing.

    1. Awesome! Do you have any other tips you'd share?


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