Bird watching is not commonly thought of as a hobby for children, but this inexpensive pastime has many benefits for the homeschooled child. If you have any birds in your area, coax them closer to your windows by strategically placing a bird feeder. Then store binoculars and field guides close to that window to encourage your children to observe the birds. Here are some of the advantages your children receive through birding.
Calm and quiet
In the over-programmed world of modern society, there is little time for quiet reflection. Birding is by necessity a quiet pastime. The chance to sit still and watch silently is very calming for children and allows them time to become introspective. Some children may use that time to meditate or pray as they commune with nature.
Although natural science has fallen out of favor in recent years, it is still a very valuable discipline that keeps people attuned to the natural world in which they live. Bird watching can count as homeschool science lessons, especially when it is combined with nature journaling.
Attention to detail
In direct contrast to the frenzied visual activity of computer and television screens, birding focuses all of the senses on living things within an ecosystem. This kind of attention is dramatically different from focusing visually on images on a screen. The attention used to observe nature is centering and calming instead of over-stimulating. Multiple senses — sound, touch, and smell– are incorporated with sight as a child watches a bird in its natural habitat.
For curious children, bird watching leads to research and experimentation. It begins with questions: “What kind of bird is that? Why does it behave the way it does?” A young birder will make his own guesses and be compelled to look up the answers in field guides. He may begin to take notes in a nature journal about his observations and try to experiment with ways to coax more birds into view. All of these activities feed directly into the scientific method and make young scientists out of birdwatchers.
Of course, when you introduce birding to your children, you don’t need to explain these advantages to them. Your children will gradually discover them on their own even if they are not able to verbalize them. Simply present bird watching as a fun activity and enjoy it alongside them.
“A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.” (tweet this)