When the kids were very little, and we had just started homeschooling, our lives were rather chaotic. My husband had been transferred out of state. And until the house sold, I remained at home, with 3 small children, while my beloved lived in a hotel room 500 miles away. I learned two extremely invaluable things during that time:
1. Home is where your family is. It’s not the neighborhood you live in, the church you go to, or the house you occupy, as I so mistakenly thought. It’s simply sharing your life – everyday – with those you love the most.
2. When you’re trying to sell your home, it must be kept clean and presentable the majority of the time. The only way to do this effectively with small children is… to be gone the majority of the time.
We chose to be gone the majority of the time. Since we lived in the #1 tourist destination of the world – Orlando – we had passes to everything. Science centers, zoos, Sea World, Disney, etc… We literally spent our “classroom” hours learning about dolphins, orange groves, animation, foreign countries, Howler monkeys, and more, on any given day. Despite my husband being gone, and it being one of the most stressful times of my life, it also was one of the best. To see the wonder, joy, and enthusiasm for learning that my kids held only made the homeschooling experience such a rich one for me.
After we moved however, plopping ourselves down in the middle of quiet, lonely, rural TN, our field trip excursions ceased for a long, long time. On occasion, we travelled to Boston, Chicago, NY, or DC, but the consistency of “The Homeschool Field Trip” was no longer. This was a shame, because one of the very best things about homeschooling is the flexibility that comes with it. There’s something about feeling so “over” the drudgery of one more math lesson, or sentence diagramming that you simply throw it all out the window and head out the door. To unwind, de-stress, and re-learn how to learn by visiting a museum, seeing a play, taking a nature walk, or getting a 9 year old’s questions answered by a professional is unparalleled.
After all, routine just becomes so… routine. Boring. Dull. Limiting. That’s why it’s the perfect opportunity to leave the routine within four walls for a day – or two – and choose something out of the ordinary to reawaken everyone’s minds and bodies.
Late this past winter, I received an email that one of the ski resorts in our area had greatly reduced their costs. Since we hadn’t been skiing in eons, and had never before snowboarded, we popped our heavily padded bodies in the car, set off on a 2 1/2 hour trip, and learned (well, sort of!) how to snowboard! Granted, it wasn’t polynomials, dissection of a frog, or even dissection of Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer, but my children learned!!! It does take concentration and understanding to listen to the instructor, and make the adjustments required to get your body to even stay up, let alone go downhill. But beyond that, the next day, sore, weary, and happy, we all were ready to tackle the schoolwork that had seemed so mundane just 24 hours before.
That’s why this year, when I’m strategically & methodically planning out our schoolyear, I’m going to pen in at least one field trip a month. I know I deserve it, and shoot – so do my kids!