Welcome to my homeschool blog, which offers insights into loving learning, loving your family, loving history, loving homeschooling, and enjoying your life! With your cup of coffee in hand, take a break to laugh with me, to have your heart refreshed, to be reminded of how cool your kids really are, and to consider the amazing adventure of being a homeschool mom. AND, if you are interested in the History Revealed curriculum, be sure to check out my Teaching Tips!

Nature Smart — Naturalist Intelligence


Meet my dear friend, Paul Rushworth, a senior zoo keeper at Werribee Open Range Zoo, in Melbourne, Australia. In this pose with an African serval, Paul demonstrates the trusting relationship he has built over time with this lovely, wild cat.

Why are some people incredibly good with animals? And why are some brilliant when it comes to plants, beaches, mountains, the ocean or rivers—you know, the great outdoors?

Naturalist is a way of being smart, one that we might not pay much attention to in our culture of concrete buildings, offices, apartments, and highways. Yet, for the folks who are gifted in this way, it is a key to opening the doors of opportunity, self-motivation in learning, and fantastic careers. (The following is excerpted from my book, Reaping the Harvest.)

“The Naturalist intelligence could be described as being ‘Nature Smart.’ It is the ability to recognize varieties of trees and bushes in the woods (and which of them provide food); to observe the clouds in the sky and know what weather is coming; to spot birds in flight and know what manner of bird it is (along with their songs, colorings, nest building habits, etc.); to “read the rocks” when looking at a geological structure; to cultivate an award-winning rose; to navigate the ocean by the stars; and more. This intelligence is used by gold prospectors, farmers, sailors, zoologists, botanists, geologists, oceanographers, lion tamers, rodeo cowboys, mountain climbers, amateur gardeners, veterinarians, hunting guides, and anyone else who works with animals or in the great outdoors.  In many cultures and time periods in history, this was the “make it or break it” intelligence—without it, you had no food, no warmth, got lost in the woods or on the ocean, and died.

“An excellent example of this intelligence is displayed in George Washington Carver, the celebrated African-American who revolutionized farming in the southern states through the cultivation and use of the peanut. Through his genius in this naturalist intelligence, he recognized that the peanut would restore nutrients to the depleted soil and invented dozens of commercial uses for this lowly legume.”

Here’s a question for you to consider. Are you—or any of your kids—energized by going outside? Do you have an animal lover in your family? Each of these are good indications of a strong naturalist intelligence.


Woman loving being outside

If you have children who delight in being outside, consider whether they like to play with plants, climb trees, dig in dirt, climb rocks or run at the beach. Do they like to hike, to go camping, to climb mountains? If so, then open the door and go outside! Walk in the woods, drive to the park, wander to the beach, take a hike. . .

If you have children who love animals, is it house pets (like a cat or dog) or farm animals (like a horse or cow) that have captivated them?  Is it wild animals (like you find at a zoo), marine animals (like you find at an aquarium), or birds (in the garden, the aviary, or the raptor rehabilitation center)? Next, consider how to open this door.  Perhaps they can volunteer to muck out stalls at a stable down the road, or work at the rescue shelter, or get a dog. If you are saying, “But I don’t WANT animals!! They are messy, noisy, smelly, and require maintenance!!” I know. But, it’s a small price to see them thrive.

Simple advice: Go outside. Get a pet. And watch your Naturalist kids flourish!

Here’s one outdoor Naturalist activity in the Recap from Unit 8 of Ancient Civilizations & the Bible:

Go outside with a group of family or friends and designate a small creek or other natural boundary to be the Rubicon River. Each of you take turns as Julius Caesar. Will you try to convince your followers to cross the Rubicon with you? Or will you lay down your weapons, considering the ramifications of this fateful step? Share with each other what it was like to have to take a physical step which would result in a complete break with the Roman government.

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June 2024
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