Natural Schooling (Complete Guide to Natural Education)

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When considering alternative educational methods, natural schooling emerges as a distinct approach focused on experiential learning deeply connected to the natural environment’s richness and diversity.

By adopting the principles of outdoor learning and child-led exploration, natural schooling offers a holistic approach to education that nurtures not only academic growth but also physical health, social skills, and environmental stewardship.

kids playing in snow and learning naturally in nature

In this natural schooling guide, we answer all of your natural schooling questions, exploring its core principles, examples, activities, curriculum, and lesson plans.

What is Natural Homeschooling

Natural homeschooling, also known as unschooling or child-led learning, is an educational philosophy that avoids traditional classroom settings in favor of harnessing the natural curiosity and intrinsic motivation of young people.

At its core, natural homeschooling emphasizes learning through real-life experiences, hands-on exploration, and immersion in the natural world.

Rather than following a prescribed curriculum, children are encouraged to pursue their interests and passions, leading to a more personalized and meaningful educational journey.

Natural Schooling Examples

Examples of natural schooling can be found in a variety of settings, from forest schools and nature schools to homeschooling co-ops and outdoor education programs.

Forest schools, for instance, immerse children in natural environments from those early years and beyond, allowing them to learn through play, exploration, and discovery.

Nature preschools integrate outdoor learning into early childhood education, fostering a deep connection to the natural world from a young age.

Homeschooling families often incorporate outdoor excursions, nature walks, and hands-on science experiments into their curriculum, providing rich opportunities for sharpening outdoor skills and learning beyond the confines of traditional textbooks.

Natural Schooling Activities

Natural schooling activities encompass a wide range of experiences that engage children with the natural world and promote learning in meaningful ways.

Outdoor play, nature hikes, gardening, wildlife observation, learning survival skills, and nature-based crafts are just a few examples of activities that foster a sense of wonder and curiosity about the environment for young children.

Building forts, identifying plant and animal species, collecting natural materials and nature items, and participating in conservation projects are also valuable ways to connect with nature while developing critical thinking skills and environmental awareness (which is such a great idea when it comes to physical education and learning a new skill).

Natural Schooling Curriculum

The curriculum in natural schooling is fluid and adaptable, reflecting the ever-changing interests and needs of the learners.

Rather than following a set syllabus, natural schooling curriculum is guided by the principles of child-led learning and exploration.

John Lubbock

Subjects such as science, math, language arts, and social studies are integrated into hands-on experiences that take place in natural settings .

Learning opportunities arise organically as children engage with their surroundings, whether it’s conducting experiments in a stream, writing poetry inspired by the forest, or studying local flora and fauna.

Natural Schooling Lesson Plans

Creating effective lesson plans in natural schooling involves weaving together academic concepts with outdoor experiences that spark curiosity and foster a deeper connection to the natural world.

Lesson plans may include activities such as nature scavenger hunts, tree identification walks, birdwatching expeditions, and outdoor art projects.

Integrating environmental education into lesson plans allows young people to develop a sense of place and responsibility for the natural resources that sustain life on Earth.

How to Begin Natural Homeschooling

Starting natural homeschooling involves embracing a different way of educating children, rooted in outdoor experiences and self-directed learning.

  • Begin by researching local resources, such as nature centers, parks, and community gardens, that can serve as outdoor classrooms.
  • Connect with other homeschooling families, nature schooling groups, and forest school professionals in your area to share ideas and resources.
  • Utilize significant reviews and current research to inform your approach, considering educational philosophies like Charlotte Mason or forest schooling principles.
  • Invest in nature items such as field guides, magnifying glasses, and outdoor exploration kits to enhance learning experiences.

A Typical Natural Homeschooling Schedule

Natural homeschooling allows for flexibility in scheduling, tailored to the rhythms of nature and the interests of the children.

A typical day might start with outdoor exploration and nature study in the morning, followed by hands-on activities such as gardening, art, or science experiments.

Incorporate reading and math naturally throughout the day, using real-life situations and outdoor experiences as learning opportunities.

Allow time for free play and unstructured exploration in natural settings, fostering creativity and curiosity.

As community leaders and policy makers increasingly recognize the positive impact of nature schooling on children’s quality of education, homeschooling families can feel empowered to design a schedule that meets their unique needs and preferences.

Can Kids Learn Reading and Math Naturally?

Yes, children can learn reading and math naturally through everyday experiences and outdoor exploration.

Reading can be integrated into nature walks, storytelling, and observing signs and labels in the environment.

Math concepts can be taught through measuring, counting, and sorting natural materials found outdoors.

Utilize resources like Charlotte Mason-inspired living books and nature-themed math manipulatives to make learning engaging and relevant.

As older children progress, consider incorporating more structured lessons and activities, such as field trips to historical sites or earth schooling expeditions to study geology and ecology.

Materials Needed for Natural Homeschooling

Materials for natural homeschooling can vary depending on the interests and focus of your curriculum.

Essential items may include…

  • field guides
  • binoculars
  • nature journals
  • art supplies
  • gardening tools
  • science kits

Take advantage of free shipping offers and discounts to acquire nature items and educational resources economically.

Consider creating a nature study area in your home or outdoor space, stocked with books, specimens, and supplies to inspire exploration and discovery.

As policy makers and public schools increasingly recognize the benefits of outdoor learning, there is growing support for nature schooling initiatives and access to resources for homeschooling families.

Are Natural Homeschoolers Equipped for Success in Life?

Natural homeschoolers are equipped with valuable skills and experiences that contribute to their success in life.

Research indicates that nature schooling positively impacts student outcomes, fostering creativity, resilience, and a sense of environmental stewardship.

By engaging in outdoor learning and community-based experiences, children develop social skills, problem-solving abilities, and a connection to the natural world that can lead to lifelong passions and pursuits.

As nature deficit disorder becomes a growing concern, natural homeschooling offers a solution by providing children with regular opportunities to explore and connect with the outdoors, laying the foundation for a healthier and more sustainable future.


Natural schooling offers a holistic approach to education that embraces the transformative power of the natural world.

As educators, parents, policymakers, and advocates, we must recognize the value of outdoor learning and prioritize the integration of nature-based experiences into the educational journey of every child.

Through natural schooling, we can inspire future generations to become stewards of the environment and champions of a sustainable future.

Wishing you a happy and natural education, Wild Wanderer!

-Wander Wildschool

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