Nature Is Unhurried


Nature Is Unhurried

It is hard to quantify exactly how much influence the late Charlotte Mason and her educational philosophy has on Trinity’s Lower School. As a Welsh-born educator who lived most of her life in England, Mason was passionate about cultivating young minds and developed many principles we use at Trinity.

One Charlotte Mason principle we see in practice is regular nature studies. She writes in her work Home Education, “Let them once get touch with Nature, and a habit is formed which will be a source of delight through life.” 

What is a Nature Study? 

The steps of a nature study are fairly simple. First, the class takes a walk outdoors. Students look at the natural world God provided and select an object to bring back to their class. Back at their desks they observe the object, employing a magnifying glass if needed. Next, each student begins creating and testing the colors they’ll need. This process can take a while, and though the class is encouraged to remain quietly focused, second grade teacher Melissa Hartemink notes, “Sometimes you’ll hear whisperings of ‘How did you make that great gray?’ and the reply, ‘Just add a little more white or a dab of brown.’” Once the colors are ready, budding naturalists begin to paint the object as they see it. When they’ve finished, they might include the Latin name of the object along with their artistic signature to make their work a true piece of natural art.

Each drawing goes into a book that travels with them throughout their time in the Lower School.

Reflecting on the process, Mrs. Hartemink says, “It doesn’t have to be a perfect representation of the object. That’s not what we’re going for, but it’s the experience and the process of painting what you see from nature. They also learn a lot of responsibility to set up and clean up through the whole process.” Third grade teacher Mary Dondero adds, “You don’t always have to be doing something. You can just sit, wait, and think. And that’s a hard thing to do now in this world. That’s the beauty of the nature study; it gives a student time just to sit, think, and observe.”


For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

– Romans 1:20


That verse might be read with some skepticism, but it is the essence of unhurried nature studies. Can we really learn all we need to know about God from his creation? Can we truly see him in unhurried moments of observation? Perhaps this skepticism is the byproduct of a busy life. What an encouragement that our children learn this unhurried practice in their formative years at Trinity! May they inspire us to learn the patience and art of observing nature until God’s eternal power is clearly seen.