It’s no secret this the last school year has been a bit weird. For many of us, taking on the much larger role in our kid’s day to day learning has been both rewarding and insanely challenging. And that’s just as the parents. Let’s not forget that kids and teachers have had quite the run for their money too.
In our family, we had a bit of a head start when it came to teaching and learning in the home environment, since technically we were homeschoolers already (though only a year in at that point, and green at best if I’m being completely honest). It’s true that we didn’t have the same tear away from daily friends, mentors and routines like many had to cope with, but I will say that we’re not living in the normalcy of a regular school session right now either.
Homeschooling, at least in our experience, isn’t usually all about being at home. Most of the time, that’s threaded into real world experiences and enrichments: weekly library trips, co-ops and playdates with friends and other adults, extra curricular classes, and local field trips on the regular. None of that is what we’re experiencing right now either, so to say that boredom has begun to set in around teaching methods in our home, is a drastic understatement. For all of us. Just saying.
So we decided to think outside of the box.
There comes a time when learning (or working for that matter, though that’s a different post I’m sure) from home, however carefully scheduled, planned and executed, just doesn’t inspire the same way any more. Glazed over eyes and withering enthusiasm were the first clues. Backtracking in already mastered skills and fracturing attitudes were the next.
So, we decided a (safely as we could) little trip was in order. A “field trip” week of sorts, if you like. Off we popped for six days on an out of season road trip, hitting up some of our favorite past vacation haunts, while introducing as many learning opportunities as we could, every single day. Here’s what we did:
- Put the kids ‘in charge’ of their trip budgets. They had some allowance and some gift money floating around, so we let them take over from there. They added up their potential purchases, asked questions in the stores about items they were interested in, learned about patience and intentional spending choices, and in the end, they led the whole transaction themselves.
- Had them order their own food, drinks, and ask questions to outside folks when they had them. This had them practice their conversation skills, put them in charge of making thoughtful choices, and built up their confidence in speaking to people outside of our family unit.
- Learned about where we were going and what else lived there! For example, we stopped by Hilton Head Island and while there, we discussed sea turtle annual behavior patterns, bird migration, shark migration and learned about other marine life that could be expected to reside in the ocean at this time of year.
- Tried new foods from other regions and cultures. Instead of sticking with the vacation old faithful of hamburgers or chicken strips, we used a take out app to order a different kind of food every night. One night was Thai cuisine, one was sushi, one was Vietnamese…you get the picture. We used that as an opportunity to talk about other places in the world and other delicacies and styles of cooking.
- We picked up some books before we left that pertained to where we were headed. This included one piece of young reader fiction that we could all enjoy in the evenings together and a few non-fiction pieces that we could read on and off in the car. We also utilized family friendly podcasts!
- Lastly, we made an effort to tie in many of the school year’s skills to the regular day to day ‘stuff.’ Examples of this would be having our kids read out the signs as we try to find our way somewhere, map reading in parks, having them read hotel room numbers and state if they’re even or odd, ordinal number practice, counting money, reading the temperature of the day and following weather forecasts and patterns, stopping to look at art work or take in some unexpected music…the list is truly endless with a bit of imagination.
In closing, if you’re feeling a little stir crazy, be it the parent side of your brain, the teacher side or both, maybe a short ride to new surroundings is the answer…? The ways to learn, review and teach are just so endless, especially in today’s world. I’m so glad we decided to use this time to think outside of the box and get the short refresher that we really did need.