Using the World as Your Classroom

Using the World as Your Classroom

I can be a hermit.  I get involved in my books, my cross-stitching and my writing and forget to leave the house.  I might forget to do chores and other essential life things when I’m involved at home in my own interests.  My first born, Firecracker, tends to be just like me.

So, it was a surprise and a shock for me to start homeschooling Rose, who gets bored and needs to regularly spend time with friends and keep house.  I knew that my and Firecracker’s quiet homeschool had forever been changed.  For a couple of years, I was able to get by without going and doing because the preschoolers were much smaller and harder to get out and do with, but as they grow bigger, I find that my schedule is slowly starting to expand.

I was reminded of this transition in our homeschool by this quote in Leigh Bortins’ The Conversation:

If homeschooling means your kids stay home all day with no chance to pursue interests, then they will be miserable.  If homeschooling means the whole world is the classroom, then what young adult would choose to stay in the same building all day?

If you have a child who is miserable to stay at home all day, perhaps you need to change up your homeschool a little to accommodate his/her feelings a little better.  Here are some simple additions to our weeks that help my social butterfly to feel a little better.

1.  Library Time

I personally hate going to the library.  I’d just as soon go buy the book I need, get on with my life, and never have to sort through the shelves of books again.  That’s not my more social children’s philosophy.  I have children who love to spend time flipping through books on the shelves, going to library activities and just spending a morning or afternoon exploring the library.  Usually this leads to another errand, a milkshake run or playing on a playground, so fun times tend to be had by all the children.

2.  Co-ops

Co-ops are varied and in many communities the options are almost endless once you truly begin investigating them.  We participate in two different co-op situations.  First, we attend a weekly Bible study, and since I help as a children’s teacher, it’s a once a week 8:30-2 commitment.  There’s structured learning time, but there’s also unstructured friend and lunch time, which really helps my daughter to get her social time in.  We also do a once a month kids’ club co-op.  We socialize, learn a lesson and do an art activity.  It’s a great way to really get out and have some fun on a Friday afternoon.  We also used to participate in a Friday afternoon once-a-month bookclub, but the children elected not to participate last year after the structure of the book club changed and was less interesting for them.

3.  Field Trips

One of the great things about our once-a-month co-op is that the lady who heads it allow schedules one group field trip a month for us to participate in.  We’ve done some things that have been really fun and that I wouldn’t have thought to do by participating in these field trips.

Of course, we’re not one to wait for a group to go on a field trip day.  We also look into area field trips and opportunities to go along with the things that we’re studying.  After all, what better way is there to learn than to experience things hands-on?    I also belong to a field trip group or two on Facebook where I see many opportunities, structured field trips, field trip days and other things on Facebook so that I can keep on the lookout for interesting opportunities.  If I’m not careful, I could book a field trip almost every day of the month by the time I’ve checked out all our current interests and opportunities.

4.  Family Visits

Another thing that my children love about homeschooling is that it affords them the opportunity to spend extra time with grandparents.  We usually do one weekend dinner with one set of grandparents and the children often take another evening (weekend or weeknight) to spend with the other set of grandparents.  It’s not the kind of time that you get to spend with family when you’re always rushing from one place to the next, so we’re grateful that homeschooling opens our lives to so much more opportunity to be able to spend that kind of time with grandparents.

5.  Church Involvement

We also attend AWANA and church, and I allow the children to participate in Sunday School and Junior Church.  There are also other children’s activities on an almost monthly basis that the children can participate in, making church a happy place for them to spend large pieces of their childhood.

So, those are the five main ways that I encourage the children to get out and interact with the world at this point in their lives.  There are many more ways we could use the world as our classroom and many more things to get out and discover.  We just haven’t made time for them yet.  After all, we still want to have some time at home for both study and fun 🙂

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