Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The School of Life

 So, over the past few weeks, we have had a steady flow of family members coming to visit. This may not seem like a big deal, however, in our world, this means our every day lives are put on hold temporarily. Schooling, in essence, stopped, as our schedules were thrown to the wind and we embraced the fun of having family at our new home - being military, we recently were restationed from the southeast, near where we are originally from, to the midwest, where we'd never been before - so this was the first time in approximately 8+ months that we'd had family come out to visit.

At first, it was a nice break from the day-to-day to just sleep in a little and get up and go exploring and sightseeing with our loved ones... but then, after a couple weeks of it, while still having fun, I began to feel concerned that my kids were getting out of the habit of doing school and the schedule that I had worked so hard to get them on... I was worried that they weren't really learning anything and wouldn't be interested in going back to our normal "routine" of just reading and practicing writing, etc... All of the fun of going to museums and historical landmarks and rock climbing/hiking our way up to waterfalls was going to make regular school seem drab! How could I get them interested in learning again?? 

Then it hit me: they had been learning all along! For example, my son learned the difference between a canon and a missile launcher when we explored the field artillery museum on the post we live on. He learned about the Apache Indians and how they fought with soldiers like his Daddy when we went to visit Geronimo's gravesite... He learned about how flowing water slowly erodes away at rocks and that's why certain waterfalls might have alcoves or caves behind them sometimes... My 4 year old can explain erosion to me! He learned that some fish eat algae, while others like bugs and worms, when we took him fishing... He can tell the difference between a bison and a water buffalo, and a buzzard vs. a vulture, and that Roadrunners are not just cartoon characters that get chased by coyotes, after visiting the wildlife refuge near our home. He learned about heights and how binoculars and telescopes work when we walked around the top of the nearby mountains and used different tools to look down at the beautiful views surrounding us... He learned about Bible stories when we visited the life-sized replica of the Holy City nearby and got to visit places that could be similar to the stable Jesus was born in, or King Herod's court, or the tomb Jesus was buried in, etc... He learned that crawfish like to burrow under rocks in creekbeds to hide, and that they pinch as a defense mechanism (guess how he learned that ~ haha) ... He might not be proficient in addition and subtraction quite yet, but he is still learning... 

So, what have I learned over the past few weeks we've taken "off" of school? I've learned that school - homeschooling, teaching, learning - is about much more than book knowledge and learning to read and write your ABC's... It's about letting life teach you and having a passion for knowledge. It's about teaching your kids to have that passion by allowing learning to be fun. It's about looking for a learning opportunity in everything you do and everywhere you go, because in the end, we are teaching our kids in order to enhance their lives, and by teaching them to love living life and to let life be their school in the most positive of ways, we are giving them the best education they could possibly have. 

What are fun, interesting, and/or unique ways you have found to teach your children, or what activities/experiences have you had with your kids that turned out to be a wonderful learning opportunity?

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