There is an accelerating drive to take more learning outside. Many schools are trying to practice this as much as they can, not always with the support of parents some of whom think that kids should have heads down at desks ‘getting on’ rather than mucking about outdoors, as they see it.
At the start of a home educating journey, when the only familiar approach to education is that heads-down indoors one, it’s difficult to imagine other ways. But home schooling gives you the perfect opportunity to get the learning out!
We found, very quickly, that the further you move away from the structured and oppressive approach to learning that schools adopt, the more you understand that the children learn just as much (more probably, because they’re enjoying it) outside of these restrictive structures. They learn by experiencing as much as by study.
But how do you get away from the studious, often workbook and curriculum led, indoor, schooly type of learning that’s familiar?
By focusing on the experiencing first and letting the study be the follow up – if at all! And you can use facilities in your locality to do this, with a little imagination.
Experiences of science, literature, mathematics, history, geography, all forms of the arts etc are around us all the time if we spot the opportunities.
Take history, for example. A visit to your local church may start if off. Look at the dates on the gravestones, wonder (and later research) what life was like for those people, the age they died, the social history of the time, the type of headstone a clue to their wealth, ask questions, discuss and speculate with the kids. This often leads to some googling, documentaries, films, about the period, historical dramas as educational as a documentary if discussion is involved. Along with museums there will be other historical evidence in your neighbourhood among the architecture, industries, memorials, constructions like bridges, railways, tunnels etc all to be explored. So take your history out. Explore.
Science is another example. Science is around us everywhere, whether biological (gardens, parks, nature reserves, plant centres, woodlands, etc), chemical (from the make up of the food we eat to the fuels and substances we use etc.), the physics of the universe and atmosphere and climate science a major current issue that combines it all. Get out and explore the world from a scientific point of view – for real – even if you need the ideas in a curriculum related workbook to start you off!
Make use of what’s out there like: libraries not just for books but local resources, groups, clubs, activities and so on; galleries, art centres, exhibitions, buildings, riverbanks, estuaries, streams, ponds, lakes, local museums, theatres, community centres, sports halls, swimming pools, playgrounds, tourist information centres, all provide educational opportunities and physical activities, if you go out there with an investigative and questioning mind. Even the food shop brings learning opportunities; the weights, measures, costs, contents, countries of origin, transport and time, growing food, the labelling design and wording…the list goes on.
Basically your children learn all the time when out and about if you’re observant. So use imagination to take your learning out and have faith, they WILL be learning because they will be engaged.
Which cannot always be said for sitting passively at a table over a workbook!