August 17, 2017

How We Take the School Outside The Home {5 Days of Back to School Blog Hop}

Taking School Outside The Home {Back to School Blog Hop}
There is a myth among some in society that to homeschool means that you school at home. We keep inside our four walls, never to leave. We only stay among ourselves. No interaction with the world. No SOCIALIZATION beyond each other. THIS IS A LIE! Today, I want to talk about how our family, and many other families take school OUTSIDE of the home on a regular basis. By the end of this post, I hope you will see how ridiculous the idea of homeschoolers only interacting with each other truly is and how "socialized" homeschool children really can be. But also to encourage you as a homeschool parent (if you are one) to take advantage of our freedom to take school OUTSIDE the home!

When you were a child, did you only learn about how to do things and function in society and the world by going to school? Was that the only place that learning occurred for you? Did you learn how to cook there? What about how to drive? Finances? How to interact with others? What about taxes? Sports? Music? How to change a tire? What a bird sounds like? How to grow food? What a fort looked like? Did you only learn about the beach by reading or being taught about the beach? What about marine life? Animals on the African savanna? Was your learning confined to the four walls of a classroom?

Please tell me you said, "NO!"

It is totally ridiculous to think that the only place a child can learn how to function in society or how to read or how the world works, is within a classroom of children all the same age taught by a teacher according to a government approved lesson plan. Children--no WE---learn best through EXPERIENCING life. This is why it is ridiculous to think that homeschoolers only keep their children inside their homes to learn.

On the contrary. 
We are not confined to four walls the way that many, if not all, public school children are. We don't need permission to go on spur the moment field trips relating to our studies. We don't need to get the school's permission to take the class to see a LIVE production of a book we are reading. Is the museum/aquarium/zoo/historical center having a special activity during the week that our children would enjoy? No problem, let's go! Studying the War for Independence and the men/women involved? Let's take a road trip to New England and VISIT the places it happened. Studying about marine biology? Let's spend a weekend at the coast so they can apply the learning first hand! 

Is your child eager to take swimming/karate/sewing/horseback riding/guitar/vocal lessons, but they are only offered during "school hours"? Not a problem. As homeschoolers, we can rearrange our school time so they can have the extra instruction! This is how young Olympians do it--they school around their practice schedule. This is especially awesome if you have a child with an aptitude for something and you want to give them as much time doing/learning it as possible. School can be done anytime and anywhere--not just during 7am-3pm M-F in a classroom!

Do you remember being in school and it was a gorgeous day--so you just longingly kept staring out the window? Wishing you could at the very least, take your book outside to read? My favorite teachers in school were the ones who let us do our lessons it seems like the students barely get 15 minutes to do ANYTHING outside. Homeschoolers don't have that problem. We can do ALL of our schoolwork outside if we desire. 

Homeschooling gives us sooooooo many options when it comes to teaching our children. I have made a lesson in economics with a simple grocery store trip. They took my list of things I needed, and under my guidance, made the best choices for our money. They learned about reading price per oz/g. They learned about marketing ploys. They learned about tax. They learned about money as they counted out the bills and coins. And it stuck because they were DOING IT. Not reading about it. DOING IT. And guess what? They had to INTERACT with others! They learned how to ask the employees for help finding something. They had to interact with the cashier. So they also practiced their manners.

Field trips are some of the best things about homeschooling. We were learning about the early men/women who lived in our area--studying the tribes. And after reading about the mound builders--WE WENT ON A FIELD TRIP to SEE and visit one of the very sites we read about. It was only an hour away! But it meant so much more because they DID IT. While they were there, they were able to experience other cultural aspects of the culture I hadn't even planned on! Now they REALLY could converse about the topic with far more interest than they had before! (You can read about our Adventures at The Great Serpent Mound).

One of the EASIEST ways to take school out of the home is to incorporate nature study. More and more homeschool families are adding this time to their day. Armed with a plastic bag for collecting specimens, magnifying glasses, jars, and field guides--science gets moved outdoors! Oh the things that can be discovered--and you don't even have to be in the country to do it! A park. A sidewalk. The backyard. All are RIPE with things to investigate. And once you have your objects to investigate, how much more useful the field guides and nature encyclopedias become! Give them a blank notepad and let them record information, draw, or simply attach their collections, and they will enjoy having them to refer to later. 
During a time when other kids were in school, we took a family trip to the beach!
We learned all about tide pools and the animals in them by actually observing them!
Think about the upcoming solar eclipse of August 2017. You can teach your children about an eclipse and what it does or looks like keeping them inside. But they (if they are allowed) will get to EXPERIENCE one next week. Now they will ALWAYS remember what a solar eclipse is like. 

When we take our children out of the four walls and let them EXPERIENCE what is all around them, they make so many more learning connections. Why do they love the zoo or the aquarium so much? Because they don't have to just read about the creatures--they get to see them. To hear them. And yes, it some cases touch them. While I'm not a huge fan of these places, it IS nice that my children are able to actually experience animals they may have only ever read about. I am able to hear them say "I thought it would be smooth, but it feels bumpy!" or "I didn't realize it could swim!" or "I didn't think it would be so tiny when born!" 
Researched lions, and then saw one at the zoo!
On a family trip (during "school" time for other children), he was able to hold an alligator!

Another way that we take the school outside of the home--we encourage learning through play! When I send my boys outside to play, I know they are going to learn! That pile of wood teaches them engineering principles as they stack it to make towers. The old fashioned hand drill they are using on a block of wood teaches them about physical science and simple machines like screws. 
We cancelled "school" so they could have hands on experience with building fences

Now let's talk socialization really quick. 
The definition for socialization involves:
*mixing socially with others
*make (someone) behave in a way that is acceptable to their society

Based on this, and what I have just shared about how homeschoolers take school OUTSIDE the home and into the world, the argument for socialization is laughable. My boys mix socially with others all the time--and not just an entire classroom of children the same age. No, they interact with people of all ages and races and backgrounds. They can communicate fluently and intelligently with older people. They are polite and can sit still and play on their own. They know that you hold the door open for others. They know how to oh--STAND IN LINE--because they go to the grocery store with me, where we have to STAND IN LINE and wait our turn. (I mention this because someone once asked me how my children would learn how to stand in line as homeschoolers). Being IN the great big world and outside of the four walls of a classroom ALLOWS our children to learn how to behave appropriately.

And, socialization for homeschoolers DOESN'T include bullying or negative peer pressure. They don't need to go to school to learn how to stand up to bullies or for themselves. The world is full of bullies and peer pressure--it doesn't end when they graduate. But I can teach them how to treat others properly through example and teach them about the differences in cultures, by getting them out IN IT! Many homeschoolers go on mission trips before they ever graduate high school. Many organize charity functions. Or serve at shelters. Community service is a HUGE part of homeschooling. You absolutely do NOT need to attend public school to learn how to treat people with kindness!
Many homeschoolers send their children to summer camp! I use it as a way to let my boys interact with other children close to their own age. And guess what? They do perfectly fine!
But sports?! Don't you want your children to have the opportunity for sports? Homeschoolers actually have opportunities for sports just like other children. We can play in private league teams. Some states allow for homeschoolers to play on school teams. There are private homeschool leagues. There are swim teams. Soccer leagues. Volleyball leagues. Many homeschoolers get private sports lessons! Homeschoolers can get scholarships in sports for college just like anyone else! 

There are some homeschoolers who are so busy OUTSIDE of the home, they spend only a fraction of the time actually in the home doing bookwork, because they are going to lessons and attending meetings (cubscouts, girl scouts, 4H, ect) in other places!

To back up my discussion--I asked 105 homeschooling families from all over the United States to estimate the percentage of time they are OUTSIDE of their home doing school in some form--whether classes with others, lessons, sports, nature studies, etc. And here is the result:

See the results? Of the 1055 families, 45% said they spend 25-50% of their time doing school OUTSIDE of the home. Another 49% said they spent up to 25% of their schooling time OUTSIDE the home. Even 4% of the families surveyed said they spend up to 75% of their schooling time OUTSIDE of their home! 

Of course, there are also the random and few and far between homeschooling family that chooses to live under a rock. But don't compare the whole community to that minority!

Whether you are just getting started with homeschool, or you have several years under your belt. Don't forget the benefit of the time spent OUTSIDE the home for learning experiences. It is really THESE that will truly last a lifetime. So add in some road trips. Add in some field trips. Add in some days of outdoor exploration. Use the grocery store as a lesson in math or economics. Or simply take your books outside and enjoy the sunshine.

We are blessed to have the freedom to leave the walls behind--so take advantage of it! 
That's another post for the 5 Days of Back to School Blog Hop with the Homeschool Review Crew as we explored the topic of school Outside the Home! Join me for the final day where I share a "Dear Homeschool Mom" heart to heart. As always, make sure you visit some of the other bloggers this week! There is some fabulous stuff!

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