May 13, 2013

Why We Home School: Part IV

Why We Home School:  Fun!

School doesn't have to be boring!  It doesn't need to consist of sitting indoors quietly at a desk for 5 hours, listening to the teacher talk and taking notes and filling in bubbles on tests.  Kids don't need to miss out on recess time just because one kid was being disruptive and caused everything to run late.

We go to museums - history, art, science museums.  We spend time at playgrounds.  We watch educational videos.  We weave education into camping trips, road trips, bike rides, hikes, ball games, board games, cookie baking, dog walks, swimming, play dates, and much, much more!  There really is no limit to the creative, fun ways you can teach your children every subject they need to learn.

We made the decision to home school our boys in mid-summer of 2010, with plenty of vacation plans still ahead of us.  We decided to start lessons in the summer, one or two a week, to slowly introduce the boys to the changes coming soon.  The very first lessons we gave them involved budgeting (a.k.a., mathematics), geography, and a mixture of science and art.  Tell a kid they're going to do math lessons during their summer vacation, and they'll either run away screaming, or fall on the floor in tears.  Math?  In the summer?  Boring!!!

But it doesn't have to be boring!

We traveled to Niagara Falls in our home state of New York, we camped, we visited the Buffalo Zoo, and we spent a day at Fantasy Island theme park.

For their math lesson, we gave each boy $33 spending money and a blank budget sheet.  We knew they'd want souvenirs at each of the three locations we visited, and we wanted to teach them both the value of money and how to be responsible with it.  So, their task was to keep track of the amount of money they spent, and when they ran out of money, that was it.  They didn't get any more.  This helped them make wise decisions about their purchases and forced them to add, subtract, and estimate.

Believe it or not, they loved it!  Each time we returned to our campsite after a fun day out, they looked forward to recording how much money they'd spent and seeing how much they had left for the next day.  It was by far one of the best object lessons we've given them thus far.

Back at our camp site, we dove into a geography lesson.  The boys' gramma gave them a book about maps and mapping.  We went over some of the information in it with them, then we went for a hike around the campground.  We had the boys use the information they'd learned as well as the campground map to lead us from our camper around the grounds and back to our camper.  They learned about map symbols, keys or legends, and the compass rose, and they learned how to read a map (and fold it back up when finished!)  

Along the way, as they led us around the campground, they also collected some samples of interesting natural objects, such as leaves, flowers, sticks, stones, etc.  They enjoyed trying to outdo each other in finding the most unusual object.

After they successfully led us back to our camper, we used their collections of objects for a science lesson.  I'd brought sun-sensitive paper with us.  They arranged their objects on the paper, set the arrangement out in the sun for a couple of minutes, brought them back into the shade, and soaked the paper in water for several more minutes.  When finished, the shape of their collected objects burned onto the paper, and soaking the paper in water caused it to create a negative image.  They'd never seen anything like it and were amazed!

As we drove home, sunburned and fatigued after our fun- and education-filled vacation, the boys exclaimed, "This was the best week of my whole life!"

Yes.  Learning can be fun!

Previous post... Why We Home School:  Faith

Coming up... Why We Home School:  Focus

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