Every day’s a field trip (or can be)

When people ask me why we homeschool, I have a super hard time trying to respond. Because for us, there are so many reasons that I guess the only good answer is: I can’t think of a reason not to. No, no that’s not the best answer. The best answer really is: It works for our family, and we are confident, confident as can be, that it will work out amazingly for our kids’ futures. But this is never a clear enough response for the curious, and I totally get that. It is vague, and it is not really all that helpful in helping others to understand one of the good reasons for instructing kids outside of our society’s school systems. So here’s one of my very favorite reasons for homeschooling: We can take this show on the road whenever we want. When I look back on my childhood and on my education, I can say with confidence that I learned more about history on family trips to Williamsburg and to Mayan ruins, and even to a wonderful little local museum than I ever learned in a classroom. Of course, it helped that my mother loved to get her children involved in hands on activities while learning, and my dad is an excellent teacher and a closet history geek, but it also helped to see history. Our family trips to a hands on museum helped this self-proclaimed science novice to get excited about the oft times cold and yucky subject matter. A classroom is not always the best way to learn, and it is pretty cool to not have the obligation to put my kids in one five days a week. Of course, most days my kiddos are in our little schoolroom, but ya know, just having the option to pile into the car or put on our boots and go for a nature hike any ol’ time we want is pretty inspiring in itself.

So we’ve been on a trip. Our second big trip of this school year, and we’ve found a pretty even balance between well-laid plans giving way to chaos and well-laid plans falling into place in a neat little package. I can tell you that our biggest challenge of doing school on the road is not exactly completing kindergarten lessons, but it is entertaining the two little sisters and finding them ways to grow and learn while worksheets are completed and reading lessons are worked through. I want this trip to be enriching for all of the kids. I want them all to learn.

So we have been very creative, and very, very messy at times. I have had to learn to let it go when toys and craft supplies are strewn across the hotel bed. Playtime and art time is good for the littles, and that is much more important than me keeping our space clean and organized at all times.

For this trip, my goal was to keep a good even mix of desk work and learning from the environment. We went on nature walks and learned about the local trees, flowers, and wildlife. And because these were all things my kids were not used to seeing back at home, there were so many questions. Some of which I knew the answers to, and others we had to jot down for research later. Out of all of our activities on this trip, I think our nature walks taught the kids the most. At the end of the day, we try to make a habit of discussing what was learned that day. I love this time, when it happens, because it tells me, in their own words, what my children took in that day, what they really took in, not just what I think I taught them. And this week, they feel they are experts on St. Augustine grass and cows. Random, but pretty fun.

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