As a child I collected bird’s nests. No, not figurines or coins but bird’s nests that I found while exploring the yard. My mom helped me ensure that I wasn’t bringing in lots of bugs and unneeded germs into the house, but I love that she let me run with my collection. I had an entire bookshelf full of them and could tell people where I found the nests and what birds probably built the nests.
My belief on multiple intelligences is that we are all a blend of these different areas of talent, but people generally have one or two that out-power the others. If you haven’t already, hop back to my post about creativity and intelligences. My intelligence is mostly naturalistic. According to Howard Gardner, ” The core of a naturalist intelligence is the human ability to recognize plants, animals and other parts of the natural environment, like clouds or rocks.”
Richard Louv has done an enormous about of research on the benefits of nature in both children and adults. His book, Last Child in the Woods pulls together some fascinating research on the benefits of nature. He speaks about a professor at the University of Wisconson that has compiled a list of characteristics of children with a naturalistic intelligence:
- Have keen sensory skills, including sight, sounds, smell, taste and touch.
- Readily use heightened sensory skills to notice and categorize things from the natural world.
- Like to be outside, or outside activities like gardening, nature walks or field trips geared toward observing nature or natural phenomena.
- Easily notice patterns from their surroundings- likes, differences, similarities, anomalies.
- Are interested in and care about animals or plants.
- Notice things in the environment others often miss.
- Create, keep, or have collections, scrapbooks, logs or journals about natural objects- these may include written observations, drawings, pictures and photographs.
- Are very interested, from an early age, in television shows, videos, books or objects from or about nature, science or animals.
- Show heightened awareness of and concern for the environment for endangered species.
- Easily learn characteristics, names, categorization, and data about objects or species found in the natural world.
When considering the types of schooling and learning culture you want to set up for your child, I encourage you to look into philosophies that allow children to explore and observe nature. A learning philosophies inspired by Rudolf Steiner, Waldorf, is very nature-infused. The belief is that children learn through spending time outside and with natural objects. Their science curriculums are often very nature infused but the outside world finds a way to seep into all subject areas of this type of education. Charlotte Mason also has a great deal of nature infusion. The philosophy is built on forming habits, but believes that children learn through interacting first hand with nature.
I am often asked what philosophy I am drawn to and the honest answer is that I am a mix of many. I believe that each child is unique and it is my job as a parent to follow their gifts and strengths. For Lydia, I am seeing the naturalist and linguistically intelligence, but my next child may indeed like spending time outside, but may be more musically or logistically talented. If this is the case, I want to be flexible enough to adapt the exposure and teaching methods to this style of learning. But our home life in general mirrors Waldorf and Charlotte Mason more so that any of the other learning philosophies.