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The Homeschooling Life: Learning Everywhere You Look

I recently had an interesting conversation with one of my friends about the subject of homeschooling. She admitted that her son in first grade hates school and fights going every morning. When I asked her if she’d ever considered homeschooling, she quickly replied, “Oh no. I could never teach him what he needs to know. We’d do math by counting money at the grocery store instead of sitting down and learning.”

Why, I wondered for the hundredth time, do we equate learning with sitting down? After all, many of the greatest minds resisted this educational approach. An elementary school teacher once asked Albert Einstein to drop out of his class, while another labeled him a silly dreamer. Young Albert was failing school, while at home he was teaching himself calculus.

Thomas Edison was naturally curious and often got into trouble at school for asking too many questions. His mother began homeschooling him when he was twelve because she saw he needed more freedom to learn.

Active Learning

So if the sit-down approach doesn’t work, then what does? For many children, projects and natural learning opportunities offer engaging, real-life experiences. For hundreds of years, most children lived in agrarian cultures and spent many hours each day outdoors or working with their hands. Today, though, children are expected to operate as mini-adults. They’re shuttled from their desks at school to structured after-school activities. Once home, their preferred activity is often video games, movies, or texting. Many parents, worried about safety, limit natural afterschool activities such as biking or walking to a friend’s house.

An Outdoor Workbook for Kids, Families, and Classrooms [1]

But children haven’t changed, according to research from the Gesell Institute of Child Development [2]. Children today still need ample time to play outdoors and learn best through hands-on learning. Today’s children are suffering the effects of their constricted lifestyles. Juvenile type-2 diabetes and obesity numbers are climbing at alarming rates, and many children have limited gross motor skills.

The Benefits of a Homesteading Lifestyle

Thankfully, the homesteading lifestyle, when combined with homeschooling, offers kids the real-life, active experiences they need to grow and thrive. Think for a minute about all the things your kids learn through the following activities:

As you plan your homeschooling curriculum, save time for naturally-occurring learning opportunities. Incorporate academic topics like math, reading, and writing into everyday experiences. If you don’t have a farm, but savor the homesteading experience, look for ways to create these experiences. Join 4-H, grow a small garden, or even raise a few chickens in your backyard. Pick fruit at a local orchard and can it or take your kids in the woods to hunt for morels or chokecherries. All these experiences enrich your life and bring a whole new level of learning to homeschooling.

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