When I homeschooled, I often asked myself, what are the advantages of homeschooling compared to public school? The answer for me was the learning could be more hands-on, actual experiences. I figured we could go places more often. Field trips didn’t have to be once between the ages of 5 to 11 (Field trips are the subject of Concept 11).
One homeschooling mom told me that when she was talking about maps to her child, they went to the mall and she said to her daughter, “I want to get to this store. How do we get there?” That got me thinking.
Unless you’re a mime, think outside the box*. “Chores” sound like you’re keeping your child home to work but caring for an animal is zoology; making cookies and doubling the recipe is math; using baking soda and vinegar to froth and foam is chemistry (a friend said it doesn’t matter how many times little kids see this, they still want to see it again). If a child plans your trip from here to there, you’re teaching map reading and geography. Three of my children had been in scouts. Read the badge requirements--focused hands-on learning. The Dangerous Book for Boys and the Daring Book for Girls are fun to try out, with the added bonus of sections that include history, science and even grammar. There are numerous books and blogs with instructions for science experiments to do at home. The key acronym nowadays is STEAM = Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math. There are blogs with activities for each those different concepts. There are also blocks, Legos and all sorts of kits.
Be sure to check out the different activities at libraries for your children’s ages. It’s not just reading books anymore. Our library likes to host storytelling festivals. I love the summer reading programs because they include adults, too. Sign up for art organizations’ newsletters if your child is interested in art (and how are they going to know unless they try it). Some organizations offer free workshops now and then.
Here’s another idea, meet other homeschoolers and find out the parents’ talents. I have a friend who is a potterer. I’m into theater. We traded kids once a week for a little while so my son could work with clay and her daughter could learn some acting skills. Another friend hosted a several-weeks co-op. I taught theater (surprise, surprise) while a couple of other parents taught their specialties.
Two stories to illustrate the possibilities:
A friend mentioned to me that we as parents often use generic terms. She told me that her husband caught a bass and put it in their swimming pool. They didn’t point it out to their little boy and say, “Look, there’s a fish.” They said, “Look, there’s a bass.” Sometimes, the youngster would go outside just to “look at the bass.” Now there’s a simple experience that taught more than just “fish.”
When my husband taught third grade, the parents of one student came to talk to him about what to do for schooling because they were leaving for Italy the last week of school. Was there work that my husband needed to give their child to finish up the school year? After learning they would be visiting many places in Italy, my husband recommended they could always have the child write in a journal. I’d call that an experience, too.
Both large and small experiences are tools for learning.
In spite of me praising the idea that experiential learning is good, don’t overwhelm yourself and think that your entire day must be devoted to creating amazing moments for each child. As mentioned in Concept 1, let them read.
*It’s difficult for me to think outside the box; I am a mime.