As part of the Summer Freebie Extravaganza, I have been introduced to some fun and interesting Travel blogs. I especially enjoy Jessica’s writings from http://www.suitcasesandsippycups.com. She has graciously given her permission for us to share some of her blogs. This one is about homeschooling–but then really, they all are, aren’t they? 🙂
The world is our classroom, but our school is at home. When I started blogging about our travels, I had whimsical ideas that I would share about our travels while answering questions about great hotels for families and fun roadside stops. Interestingly, though, most of the questions I get are about homeschooling. Most of the time, the questioners are genuinely curious, but there is always a hint of ‘you know that’s weird right’?
Although homeschooling is increasingly becoming more wide spread, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I have had a bushel of glassy eyed panicked expressions and people who back away slowly when they discover that we school at home. Quite accustomed to this reaction, I have become well equipped to talk people down from the “isn’t that illegal and what about socializing” ledge.
Lest you be afraid I have jumped the travel blogging shark and will from here on be a denim jumper wearing radical touting the evils of public schooling, let me offer a disclaimer. I do not think public school is evil (although some reform is in order) and I do not think that homeschooling offers a superior education for every child. I freely admit that my kids are missing out many things by schooling at home. They are also benefiting in ways that they would not if they were in a brick and mortar school. This seems to show up most in our travels.
So interconnected are our schooling and our travels that it is hard to say which came first. Most obviously, homeschooling allows us to travel during the off season when the prices are lower and the museums are empty. It also allows us the freedom to travel for an extended period of time. I would almost be tempted to say neener, neener at this point, but I assure you I pay for this little benefit while teaching verb conjugation and long division.
Our curriculum is also a big impetus for our travels. We use a literature based, living books curriculum, which is just educationese that means that we don’t use text books and we read a lot. Whenever possible, I strive to create opportunities to immerse ourselves in our reading and that often means traveling to a site that correlates with the topics we are studying. Let me tell you, there is some education magic in reading about Lewis and Clark while paddling down a river or reading about slavery while huddled in an Underground Railroad site.
Our yearly travel plans and the arrival of our curriculum go almost hand in hand, as we use one to plan the other. After studying Greece and Rome, we bought our tickets and explored the pages of our books face to face. The Middle Ages and Renaissance prompted a trip to England and Italy. In the coming years we will study ancient cultures and eastern cultures. Egypt and China, anyone? Be still my heart.
Back to those burning questions. No, we don’t homeschool for religious reasons, but we know many people who do. Yes, we do have lots of opportunities to socialize: scouts, Sunday School, sports and weekly co-op. No, homeschoolers do not have to have teaching credentials, but I do have a teaching degree if that makes you feel better about the whole thing. No, I do not have an angelic amount of patience, and I occasionally dream of the big yellow school bus taking away all my troubles.
And yes, we know it’s weird. That’s actually one of the reasons that we chose homeschooling for our family. You see, with only one chance at life for us and our kids, we want to make it extraordinary. One of the unintended side effects of schooling on the road less traveled is that the kids have become accustomed to feeling somewhat foreign. Along with this they have developed a relative comfort with the differences of others and feeling of confidence in new situations. My hope is that they will carry this confidence with them, whether it is in their own backyard or around the world.