I believe the most authentic learning doesn’t necessarily happen during our “school” time. Some of our best educational experiences these days are happening in the in-between times, often away from home, while on the go, and even on weekends. I try to find teachable moments in the everyday things we have to do in our lives. Let me give you a peek!
There is a shift happening in our homeschool! Wait, actually there isn’t. The shift isn’t in our homeschool it’s in the perspective of this homeschooling mom. While I’ve known for YEARS that so much learning happens at times other than our “school time” I’m finally relaxing enough to be ok when we don’t get to “school time” as often as I think we should.
In the whopping three weeks since our “first day of school,” my family has been busier than usual! My husband has been buried up to his EYEBALLS in work and ministry (so have I). The field trip opportunities seem to be endless. Truth be told we are lucky to get 2 “normal” schooling days in in a week. TWO! My children have learned more in 3 weeks than I can even wrap my brain around.
Let me tell you how I’ve accomplished this.
1. Let the kids teach themselves!
I have been blessed with excellent and excited readers. The reading culture is one that I’ve carefully cultivated in our home since they were born. My children get incredibly limited screen time (TV, Video games, computers, etc.) and I think that has helped them grow a love for reading. They go to bed and wake up with a book in hand. They read far beyond their age level. It’s glorious and a blessing I refuse to take for granted. Every couple of weeks we head to the library and come home with a CART full of books. We leave with no less than 50, often 100, at a time. MANY of these books are informational. They choose books based on their interests, and I choose books based on the topic we are pursuing in our homeschool. They learn more from the books than I could EVER dream of teaching them myself. In fact, they usually teach me about what THEY have learned.
The books inspire their creativity and interests! It is pretty common that my kiddos will ask me to take additional books from the library on a topic they discovered within a book. They will create art or computer programs based on things they’ve learned from a book they picked up at the library. We have the lively discussion that starts with… “Mommy did you know…..!” And I say “No I didn’t, where did you learn that? The answer is usually…. A BOOK! Somehow I bet they remember more of what they learn reading on their own versus me instructing them in the same subject.
An extension of reading above, and perfect for the child who isn’t into reading, audio books can bring learning alive while letting Mom or Dad off the of the hook to do other things. My kids ADORE listening to audio books purchases from audible.com or borrowed from the library while they create with Legos. There are countless sources online for free audiobooks. I end up with time to tackle another project or work with my preschooler while they learn.
2. Netflix Schooling.
Once in awhile, I can find an excellent documentary on a topic of interest. In 2 hours they can learn more about something than I ever could teach them in a week. This isn’t limited to Netflix either. Check out Youtube and Amazon too. Once we watched a Discovery documentary on “Going Medieval.” As a result, they spent weeks building Lego castles
We spend quite a bit of time in our truck these days. Whether we are driving to Karate, a field trip, to church, or the grocery store… children are captive audiences when strapped into the car! This is another place where audiobooks can come in handy. We’ve also sung songs to help us learn math facts and chanted rhymes to help us with other memory work. Carschooling can be a very efficient use of time.
4. Real Life Homeschooling.
In our family, we do a lot of talking and a lot of including the kids in life. Recently my husband had to replace our garbage disposal. He and the boys together figured out what was wrong with ours, and then researched the best replacement. They purchased it and removed the old one before installing the new one. He let our boys trial and error and make mistakes and learn every step of the way. We’ve done this to a degree with car repairs and other home repairs. These children get to see real-life math and apply problem-solving skills in a way no book can teach.
With Eliza, as a preschooler, she’s had to learn everything as we go and I’m amazed by her. With her my oldest children I carefully took the time to teach them colors and shapes and number and letters. It was deliberate and planned learning on my part. With her… well… I haven’t been so deliberate and planned, and yet she is learning it all. It seems our snuggle time with books and chatty conversations as we move throughout the day have taught her much though I am always trying to keep her in mind and come up with projects just for her. Children really do learn through life.
I regularly take my oldest children out on prayer walks with me. We use the opportunity to discuss important social issues of our day and their impact. We talk about why God allows terrible things in our world. I listen to them and their hearts and give them the chance to share with me things that just don’t get shared in the busy household on a day to day basis. And of course, it gives me the opportunity for me to model for how and what to pray for in in many situations.
If these aren’t meaningful lessons in civics, geography, cultural differences, and religion than I don’t know what else I could possibly add.
5. Children can teach one another.
I see this all of the time in my own. One child will learning something cool (usually through a book), and then they enthusiastically share it with his brother or sister. I often hear… “Hey Ezra did you know….” or “Noah, I just read….” My boys also love to read to their baby sister. She gets a lot of attention from them. I think I might take this to the next step and see if I can get them involved in some learning games with her from time to time. I think they’d all get a lot out of that experience.
Schooling in the busy really can be done!
Yes, sometimes we only “do school” twice a week. I am coming to realize this doesn’t hinder my children’s education, if anything the limited “school” time allows them the freedom to engage in their world and learn more authentic and longer lasting lessons than daily time with workbooks and textbooks might otherwise afford them.