Nature Study Hacking and Nurturing a Life of Learning (with Joy Cherrick)

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Have you ever noticed that the school part seems to be crowding out the life part of your homeschool? When Joy Cherrick began to feel stagnant in her homeschool, she realized she had forgotten Charlotte Mason’s reminder that education is a discipline, an atmosphere, and a life. She joins us on this episode of Homeschool Conversations to talk about creating margin in the homeschool day, Nature Study Hacking with a variety of ages, and more!

Be sure to check out all the other interviews in our Homeschool Conversations series!

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Joy Cherrick Nature Study Hacking Homeschool Conversations podcast interview

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Who is Joy Cherrick

Joy Cherrick is a homeschooling mother of 6 following the Charlotte Mason philosophy. She has a passion for introducing children and adults to the beauty of nature and shares her simplified nature study plans on her website NatureStudyHacking.com. She also authors a monthly eNewsletter, Naturalist Monthly, where she shares nature journal prompts, nature lore, and other ideas for parents and children to learn side by side about the world they live in. She and her children just launched Naturalist Kids Podcast, where they share about nature lore, poems and natural history- to encourage families in their journey to learn more about God’s marvelous creation.

Joy Cherrick Nature Study homeschool conversations interview

Watch my conversation with Joy Cherrick

Show Notes {with video time stamps}

Homeschool? I’m not qualified!

“Homeschooling was not my idea.” Joy’s husband was the one who originally began researching and reading and learning about education! He found people like John Holt and John Taylor Gatto. He began to ask, “How can I allow my kids to have a better educational experience than I had?

He asked Joy to consider reading and at least thinking about homeschooling.

Joy’s initial response was, “I’m not qualified.” But as she began to read and learn more, it really became the beginning of her own education.

When she found Charlotte Mason’s philosophy through For the Children’s Sake and For the Family’s Sake, it really spoke to her heart.

She loved that it provided a form and a direction while also taking into account each individual child’s interests and aptitudes.

(Would anyone care to guess how many of my Homeschool Conversations guests have brought up For the Children’s Sake?! I think it’s at least ¾ if not more!)

Joy Cherrick Nature Study Hacking homeschool interview

How has your approach to homeschooling changed and developed over the years? {9:00}

This is Joy’s 6th year homeschooling. “I have really enjoyed standing on the shoulder of giants. Really being mentored, listening to what other moms have done, and really just trying to apply and move forward and not make a lot of decisions.

This year, however, Joy began to feel stagnant and bored. She realized, “I had really left out the life part. ‘Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life.’” This year, they’ve been reworking some things. Their garden is bigger. Joy and her kids have started a Naturalist kids podcast, and they’re going to get bunnies! Lifestyle things have become more important to them.

“Let’s just live fully here and not always be waiting for that next thing around the corner,” they decided.

This has meant Joy has needed to add more margin and flexibility so that they can find time for these things in the homeschool day.

“If I can’t allow life to happen in our homeschool, then really I’m just recreating school at home….It has to be relational,” Joy said.

Are there any particular challenges you have faced as a homeschool mom? How have you learned to overcome those? {15:40}

That grumpy, task-master mom can be such a joy-kill when she shows up as a homeschool teacher!

Joy mentioned how life-changing Mystie Winckler’s organize your attitude course has been in her life.

Mystie Winckler Homemaking Homeschooling Interview

It can be hard to be both organized and flexible, Joy admitted!

Dealing with dawdlers is another tricky part of homeschooling, and Joy shared the different solutions that have worked for different kids.

Nature Study for Newbies {22:00}

Joy said that nature study is a great way to get started homeschooling when you’re super excited but the kids are really too young to begin academic work.

“It starts to teach us how to learn with our child and say things like ‘I don’t know’ and ‘Let’s find out.’”

With nature study, you can take any topic and you will never get to the end of studying the depths of that topic! “There’s just so much to learn,” Joy enthused.

Nature journals for a variety of ages {27:20}

Joy will usually print out a line drawing for her children for her children to color, trace, or copy. She does nature journaling at the school table and has everything decided and set out for all the children to focus on that day.

Limiting options can be helpful! Eliminating as much friction as possible is so important.

Questions for each Homeschool Conversations Guest {31:31}

What are you reading lately?

  • Rabbit care books to prep for their new bunnies
  • Nature lore to prepare for Naturalist Kids Podcast
  • Beauty in the Word, Stratford Caldecott
  • The Columbian Orator (the book that Frederick Douglass recommended in his autobiography!)
Repentance and Discipleship in Education Dr. George Grant video Interview

What is one thing you would say to a new homeschool parent?

“I really underestimated or even dismissed my husband’s role in my children’s education…Creating margin to make sure the kids get time with their dad.”

Find Joy Cherrick Online

Check out all the other interviews in my Homeschool Conversations series!

Homeschool Conversations Video Interviews


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