The following is a post from contributing writer Tabitha.
Sometimes we just need to stay home.
(It’s called ‘Home’ schooling, right?)
Not all families are like ours. Some are great at learning in the car, doing lessons on the run, and learning anywhere they go-formal work or informal activities. In our family, we’ve learned to say no to many activities such as multiple sports and lessons per child in addition to our normal church and family schedules. Even when children are self motivated and focused on learning, there are certain distractions that just don’t allow study.
When I am not at home, and I leave an older child in charge, important things are not taking place. Our high school and college preparation courses are not being focused on. What happens when things are off kilter are coping mechanisms, not true learning. It’s more of a place holder, or a time when we just tread water.
For our family, true learning takes place when everyone feels safe, knows what is going on around them, and knows what to expect. When I am not home, things aren’t quite as stable, and it’s time to test boundaries or play, or get upset. This includes when Dad is in charge, not just older siblings.
Yes, we have learning activities with lots of fun, activity, and exploration away from home. Connections are made, and things hit home. However, for my family, these activities are supported by a firm foundation of what has already been learned at home. Whether it be about math, geography, biology, history, or whatever we’ve been working on learning, the actual groundwork has been laid at home, and the connections are made while testing, exploring, playing, observing, away from home.
For example, we’ve recently been able to get a membership to the local zoo. It is a great way to get outside, get fresh air, have a break from the normal large family life and go have fun. Sure, we’re also learning about habitats, animals, geography, and many other things including reading history in the car, but we aren’t learning math concepts, foreign language vocabulary (unless we’re practicing), spelling or writing. My oldest will be drawing, my second oldest is usually teaching the younger kids, including those in other families, something about the animal we’re looking at, and the rest are getting some much needed exercise.
After one of these excursions, which usually takes all day, we get back to life at home, including all the day-to-day things that make a home livable like chores, routines, and yes, some of our learning that isn’t as ‘fun’ as going to the zoo. I don’t regret for a minute the ‘lost’ day, as we get back into life at home with renewed energy and a way to appreciate the things we are learning.
However, that routine has to happen so our learning takes place. The consistent, the dependable, and yes, even the routine, help form that connection to home and family and life-long learning that we’ve wanted to instill in our children. It’s not a list of things to be done. It’s the rock they can build on as they move on in life and learning.
Looking at my oldest, preparing to leave home in two years for great opportunities, I am thankful that we make sure that sometimes, we just stay home.