Why Homeschool? Field Trips

Another Hatchett Job blog, baseball field, experiential learning, hands on learning, field trips, homeschooling, education, creative commonsWhat’s more fun, reading about baseball in an encyclopedia or sitting in left field with friends, straining to catch a foul ball?

Would your child rather read agriculture records or hold a baby seedling in your hands?

Sometimes, the world becomes much more memorable when a student can immerse him or herself into learning–to really jump in with both feet and explore.  Even if it is a topic that your student isn’t totally thrilled with, being on site and truly experiencing something in the real world can be very rewarding, helping a child (or teacher) to enjoy the subject more fully than they expected.

A lot of traditional learning is largely visual and partly auditory.  Field trips expand on these typical learning styles and add texture, dimension, taste, and other more subtle cues to help make learning memorable.  Often a single hands on experience through field trips can make lasting memories and spur future interests.

To love dinosaurs is pretty typical for children, but it becomes absolutely surreal to stand next to a fossilized skeleton of a T-Rex!  My youngest son loved that the paving stones at the Fernbank Museum of Natural Sciences in Atlanta had pterodactyl footprints embedded in the stones.  On his first visit (about age 7) he didn’t know whether to look up or down.  He didn’t want to miss a thing!

My oldest son loves horses and each week when we go to take riding lessons at the Calvin Center in Hampton, Georgia, it is like another field trip to him.  He learns something more about his beloved horse friends and their personalities, their health, and riding skills each week.  He is considering pursuing an apprenticeship to be a farrier.  And all this started as a field trip because he was interested in horses.  He would even muck stalls while talking to the horses than read a book any day!

For years, I have taken groups of young adults to the New American Shakespeare Tavern in Atlanta (no booze for teachers or students).  Even a movie adaptation of a play is a pale comparison to the complexities of watching a story unfold around you on stage.  Occasionally, the kids have even gotten to speak with one of the actors after the show.  We have had groups volunteer to hand out playbills and develop a deep and abiding love for theater.  Even better, from an adults perspective, they even tried the wonderful British foods that were catered in and lived without pizza, burgers, and fries, if only for a single night.

Not everyone can pursue the trips we were able to make in Georgia, but wonderful opportunities abound in every area!  There are fun things happening everywhere if we only open up our eyes to find them.Another Hatchett Job blog, field trip, homeschooling, education, experiential learning, hands on learning, creative commons

My friend Alison, is going with friends to a museum where her kids will learn while completing a scavenger hunt she made from information online.  Isn’t that a great idea?

Most cities have museums, puppetry theaters, community theaters, ballet, modern dance, various theater groups, murder mystery dinner theater, botanical gardens, petting zoos, military, naval or aircraft displays, historical, religous, and cultural attractions.

Look for National and State Parks, recreation areas, historical locations with tours, pick your own farms, Presidential libraries or birthplaces, places where movies were filmed, places where television or movies are currently being filmed (it’s interesting how these movies and shows are made), firestations, television and radio stations, restaurants (can sometimes tour the kitchen in off hours), and police stations.  There is lots to learn in any workplace!

Never overlook an opportunity to volunteer when planning your field trips.  Sometimes a lifetime of helping others can be fostered in one outing.  Consider food banks, soup kitchens, helping to clean up a neighbor’s yard, rake leaves for someone who is ill, plant flowers, donate items to a shelter, fix meals on a holiday through a local church or other organization.  Learning is often getting to know yourself and others.

Younger kids often enjoy very hands on, tactile environments (but gauge your own children, everyone is different) and concrete ideas.  Older students begin to look in depth at more abstract concepts.  So, a trip that you make with younger kids is often even better when revisited a few years later.  For example, there is an Air Force museum a couple of hours away from us.  It is a wonderful, free tour with a great picnic grounds and military museum.  My husband’s father served in the Air Force, so we do have a family connection that helps the kids be interested in what the Air Force is and what it does.  The first time we went, the boys were in awe of the size of the planes and we took pictures of them beside the planes for scale.  My oldest was fascinated to feel the treads on a tank.  It was an amazing experience for them.  A few years later, they were more interested in the museum displays, particularly the ones that told of how prisoners of war were treated on both sides of many different conflicts.  This visit brought up some very profound questions from them like, “why do countries go to war,” “how does a war end,” and “is it moral to treat others like these POWs were treated?”  The same exact trip, but seen through more mature eyes.  Some day, when they take their own children, perhaps it will speak to them from even deeper perspectives.

I have found that for my kids, the learning that happens when they aren’t trying to “learn” something is often what sticks with them the longest!  Plus, homeschoolers do need to have some fun now and again!

What is your favorite field trip memory?

To explore other parts of this series on homeschooling, click the following links:

Why We Homeschool

Why Homeschool?  Academic Excellence

Why Homeschool?  Appropriate Socialization

Why Homeschool?  Child Led Learning

Why Homeschool?  School Safety

Why Homeschool?  Learning Styles & Multiple Intelligences

Why Homeschool?  Religon

Why Homeschool?  Life Long Learners

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

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Why Homeschool? School Safety

Slow School Zone, School Safety, Another Hatchett Job blog, homeschool, education, safety, creative commonsThere was a time when it was incomprehensible that a child would be targeted for deliberate violence in one of our public schools.  Unfortunately, that day has long passed.

We think of school shootings and violence as a largely modern phenomenon, but a brief Google search showed that Pontiac’s Rebellion School Massacre occured in 1764.  Seventeen-sixty four.  Let that sink in for a moment.

When I first saw learned of this incident, I was flabbergasted.  However, in a sickening way, it kind of makes sense.  Most parents consider their children their most precious and valuable assets.  Many would gladly give their lives to protect their children and this attitude is exactly what makes schools such good targets for madmen and terrorists!  There is simply no better way to hurt a community than to attack it’s most vulnerable and innocent members.

It makes me shudder to think how fortunate we are to have not had more violence toward such easy targets.

Some schools names are permanently enshrined in our collective consciousness:  Columbine High School, the Amish School in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, Heritage High School (Conyers, Georgia), Virginia Tech, and others.  However, take a look at this list.  I don’t generally like to use Wikipedia for a source, but I find that they tend to run complete lists to use as a jumping off point for research.  By my count there have been roughly 280 school shootings in the United States.  That doesn’t include issues with fighting, bullying or other weapons, such as knives, etc.

Woah, Nellie.Another Hatchett Job blog, creative commons, school safety, homeschooling, education, bullying

One of the greatest advantages in safety that homeschooling allows is that it disperses the children to multiple locations, with many having only a few children, not hundreds in one location.  Even when we attend co-op classes, there are generally fewer than 20 kids around and lots of parents around to keep an eye on them.  We also don’t have a sign out that announces that children are meeting there during the week.  We stay pretty low key.

Fewer kids and families that know one another (and are aware of each other’s family situations) helps to keep our little group of kids a pretty non-exciting target.   The fact that our group of families are pretty security conscious and includes a law enforcement officer is helpful also.  That being said, no situation is perfect.  We will always have to keep our eyes open collectively–just in case.  But, we are comfortable and willing to do that.

But, what about bullying?  As a former public and private school teacher, I can tell you that it is rampant and can get completely out of hand.  Often administrators and teachers feel absolutely hamstrung by parents who don’t believe that their children could ever misbehave.  Even those who try to handle it cannot be everywhere.  However, many teachers are so overwhelmed or burnt out that they don’t even try.  Bullying is just a part and parcel of our out of whack culture that praises the violent and obscene instead of character and morals.

Another Hatchett Job blog, creative commons, bullying, homeschool, learning, education, school safetyMy kid was bullied in a school that I taught at and was physically at every day.  My kid was blamed for having lashed out after being repeatedly bullied by a kid who was a known bully.  Even though I was there, watching and monitoring kids all day long, my kid was targeted.

For my family, that was the last straw.  It is just not acceptable that my children face bullying during the school day.  It’s not acceptable that schools don’t do enough to stop it–to call students and their parents out on the carpet when it occurs.  Our society and our schools talk a good game, but where are the results.  How many teens have to commit suicide before we do something radical?

Please don’t think that I am totally down on public and private schools.  As far as school safety, they are usually working quite hard to guarantee every child’s safety.  But, on the subject of bullying, I don’t think they are making any difference.  That’s just my opinion and it’s okay to disagree with me.  I am not bashing any family who chooses not to homeschool.  Every family has different needs at different times in their lives.  I don’t judge.

But, I keep my children in an environment that I have more control over.

Does School Safety influence your decisions toward education?

To see other posts in this series:

Why We Homeschool

Why Homeschool?  Academic Excellence

Why Homeschool?  Appropriate Socialization

Why Homeschool?  Child Led Learning

Why Homeschool?  Field Trips

Why Homeschool?  Learning Styles & Multiple Intelligences

Why Homeschool?  Religon

Why Homeschool?  Life Long Learners

 

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

Why Homeschool? Child Led Learning

Another Hatchett Job blog, frustrated student, busy work, child led learning, homeschool, education, creative commons

Have you ever watched a child struggle with school work that he/she thought was “dumb”?

Provided that this child does not have an learning disability or other legitimate issue requiring professional help (which is often unavailable through public school systems), you have likely witnessed the best single argument for child led learning.  As an adult, do you relish sitting in meetings or doing other jobs that seem utterly pointless just because another adult told you to do them?  How does that feel?

So why would you put a child in the same situation that you despise?

Child led learning allows the child to learn by using topics that interest the child.   You don’t have to skip any particular disciplines, just tailor them to make them more interesting to the individual learner.  Homeschoolers often use the term, “unit studies” to describe what they are doing.  But, there is really no reason to purchase a special curriculum of “unit studies” for your students.   For the parent/educator who thinks about it, it’s pretty simple to put together a unit study for his/her children.

For example:   My oldest son has always had an adoration of horses.  He also has some special needs that causes him to really get attached to a subject, so it is far easier for me (and enjoyable for him) to work with his special interests, rather than against them.

Literature:   Depending on a child’s age and grade level, select stories to read about horses, from a horses point of view.  Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell, The Ballad of the White Horse, by G.K. Chesterton,  and Death Was the Black Horse, the Story of Rough Rider, Buckey O’Neill, by Dale L. Walker would all work here.

History:  Study the Pony Express, where horses came from and how they were bred and used for war, farming, pulling carts, etc., or how the evolution of the war horse in Europe enabled taking heavily armored soldiers into battle, who were the Rough Riders, what is the history of the calvary?

Math:  Word Problems involving tricky little ponies!  Time, distance, and speed calculations of horses in motion, etc.  How many mpg can you get pulling a horse trailer.  If you have 35 horses and 2/3 of them have ponies, how many horses do you have?

Science:  anatomy of a horse, what horses eat, how to care for a horse, diseases horses can get, what kind of environment that horses require, what animals can live in harmony with horses.

Field Trips:  go to a therapeutic riding farm and learn how horses can help special needs kids, stroke victims, injured soldiers returning  from battle.Another Hatchett Job blog, Creative Commons, homeschooling, tutoring, education, Mother and Child,

Physical Education:  take a horseback riding lesson.  Go on a trail ride or two.  Volunteer to help care for the horses.  Mucking stall builds muscles and character at the same time!  No, I am not kidding.

Even in a subject that my son doesn’t enjoy, learning about horses is much more interesting than just workbooks and reading a text about something he doesn’t care about.

The same type of activities can be done for everything from ballerinas to medieval castles to zebras.  Google and your local library are a great places to start finding out what types of material is readily available for free.

Often, kids learn best when they don’t really think of it as “school work” and it is just talking and learning about something they love!  They may even explore the subject on their own (reading books, documentaries about their subject of choice) that will make the teacher’s job easier and more fun!

And you know what?  Eventually, your child will ask a question that won’t be part of what you planned.  Then what?  Look it up together!  That is a great way to teach basic research skills and self initiative while you both learn something new!  Isn’t that how education is really supposed to be?

How do you keep your child’s interest in your homeschool?

For more of this series of homeschooling articles:

Why We Homeschool

Why Homeschool?  Academic Excellence

Why Homeschool?  Appropriate Socialization

Why Homeschool?  School Safety

Why Homeschool?  Field Trips

Why Homeschool?  Learning Styles & Multiple Intelligences

Why Homeschool?  Religon

Why Homeschool?  Life Long Learners

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

Why Homeschool? Appropriate Socialization

Another Hatchett Job blog, Creative Commons, homeschooling, tutoring, education, Mother and Child,Do you spend all of your work and free time with only people who are the same age as you?  Why not?  Can you only socialize with those people who the same age as you?

In families, much like in life, we deal with people of varying ages from grandparents to infants.  That is normal socialization.  It is learning to deal appropriately with people of all ages.  Even early education included students from first through eighth grades traditionally worked in the same one room school house.  The older students provided some role modeling of how to behave (or not) as older children and those lessons, by example, helped to improve behaviors in the younger students.  Actually, I have found that when students are age-segregated that they are more likely to try and gain attention through bad behavior, kind of a lowest common denominator kind of effect.  Whereas in normal socialization, a student may stand out as having a really good sense of humor, in non-appropriate socialization, several children will compete with vulgar behavior to gain the title of “class clown.”

Similarly, when properly socialized children are outside of the formal academic setting, they are more likely to find friends of different ages and interests.  This, again, reinforces the idea that students will gravitate toward children with similar temperaments and interests, regardless of age.  Younger ones benefit greatly from these friends who become a sort of role model who demonstrates how to behave when older.  Couple this with an attentive family life, which demonstrates, values, and teaches, respect, self-worth, kind behavior, etc. and the community of the child becomes the training ground for decent adult behavior.

Believe it or not, schools do not age-segregate for any reason that is beneficial for your child.  It exists to make teaching easier for the teacher and to create a better situation for “crowd control” when dealing with large numbers of children.  It has become a societal norm in this country only because it’s very existence has endured.  It is what many of us knew in school so we assume that there is no good alternative to it.  To only know how to relate to Another Hatchett Job blog, students, education, homeschooling, socialization, appropriate socializationothers who are in a specific age-normed situation of maturity and development lessens the child’s natural tendencies to pursue additional friends of all ages.  Lack of ability to socialize freely with multiple ages of people can also hamper a child’s ability to pursue certain activities and vocations, mainly those which are fostered by entering into a mentoring type situation.  How can your child be effectively mentored if he or she is uncomfortable engaging into a friendship based on a mutual interest with someone who will generally be significantly older than him or herself?  How will this caring older child or adult get to know your child in the first place if they are always with only same age peers?

Through pursuing their personal interests as part of our homeschooling life, my sons have had the good fortune to meet many and varied people to socialize with.  No two are the same.  Some are very similar in temperaments to my children, others are not.  Some don’t hear as well (some Senior Citizens who volunteer in the same places we do), might be mobility impaired, suffer deafness, or just be typical people with more or less experience than my boys have attained.  Sometimes they are learning from others.  Other times, they are sharing what they have learned.  This has furthered their skills in ways that this Mama didn’t know how to and has helped them immeasurably in gaining confidence.Appropriate socialization can happen anywhere:  at the park, at the horse stables, at Scouting events, in church, and even at the grocery store.  When you take a moment to open your eyes and really look around at your lifestyle and community as a homeschooler, you will find that resources and opportunities abound!

How do you ensure proper socialization for your children?

Join us for the next installment of our series about homeschooling.  In case you missed one of the earlier posts, you can use the following links.

Why Homeschool

Why Homeschool:  Academic Excellence

Why Homeschool:  Child Led Learning

Why Homeschool:  School Safety

Why Homeschool:  Field Trips

Why Homeschool:  Learning Styles & Multiple Intelligences

Why Homeschool:  Religon

Why Homeschool:  Life Long Learners

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

Why Homeschool? Academic Excellence

Question mark, thinker, Another Hatchett Job blog, homeschool, education, questions, Creative CommonsBright kids get bored in classroom settings and slower kids tend to fall behind.  How is this helping either child?

Study after study has shown that by reducing the student/teacher ratio you can effectively increase the education and excellence in a classroom.  What school can offer a better student to teacher ratio that a homeschool?  Even in a home with multiple children, homeschooled kids get more one on one attention and help with their studies.  If a child doesn’t understand, the parent can change up the lesson and approach it from a different perspective to help the child.  That is impossible to do in a public school classroom (trust me, I have been there and tried) due to time constraints and other practical considerations.

Children thrive when allowed to move at their own pace and homeschooling easily allows for this.  If a child loves history, it is simple to add more historical readings, biographies, and podcasts to be available for them to use at their leisure.  And by exploring something that the child enjoys, other subjects benefit as well.  One of my sons loves Roman History.  Through his independent study of Roman History (in addition to all other coursework) he has learned information that made his Geography classes much easier.  He has learned about building roads, architecture, government, and even cultures and crop rotations.  It has encouraged him at a young age to read biographies and philosophy tomes.  None of these are covered in depth in our curriculum, but time and again, he makes a comment or writes something in a paper that shows me that he is using that information that he gained independently and can make it relevant to more modern topics.  That’s high order thinking in action and it helps in so many areas.  His writing is better because his reading has increased.  He is more logical when he writes.  He has a diverse understanding of one ancient culture which he can use to compare and contrast when we look at other ancient cultures.  He has been able to use his time to become (through his own pleasure) a more well rounded young man.  I’m pretty proud of that!

He also enjoys Biology and Birding.  Because of this interest, he has been able to spend some weekends (and one week during the year) helping out at an Ornithologist’s bird banding station, taking part is “real scientific studies.”  Because he is immersed in this area, he is absorbing all sorts of Biological and Anatomical information.  The scientists and other volunteers love to answer his questions and encourage him.  They also ask him questions that challenge him to think hard!  When the nets come down about noon, they are often looking at (and identifying) lizards, butterflies, trees, wildflowers, etc.  How many kids get an extra school day a couple of times a month that can be tailored to science?  Only by allowing our son to pursue this interest could this happen.  Not many kids would want to do it either, but this is a joy to him.pencil, eraser, Another Hatchett Job blog, homeschool, education, writing, creative commons

My other son struggles mightily in math.  He is mildly autistic and has some legitimate learning disabilities, the worst of which is in math.  Homeschooling gave us the flexibility to work with a wonderful tutor for a couple of years that was really talented in helping him to advance in his understanding.  As she was a retired Special Education teacher who missed working with kids, she was able to teach me how to teach him.  She was an amazing blessing in our lives.  But the clincher is this:  her schedule was so full, we wouldn’t have been able to get to know her and learn from her if we had to do it after normal school hours!  Our flexibility offered us a chance to really pursue excellence.

The same son adores horses and has begun riding them this past year.  He has found a real connection with them.  Because of our flexibility, he can take a daytime riding lesson (couldn’t get on the schedule otherwise, this is a therapeutic riding coach that we need) and he volunteers to muck out the stalls one day a week so he can be around the horses more.  He likes stories about horses, learning about horses (biology and anatomy), even his math problems seem a bit easier to palate if they involve horses!  Horses have been a life saver for me when teaching math to an LD kiddo!

Better yet, almost any devoted parent can homeschool.  Textbooks for homeschool families are so well written and easy to follow that it can be a joy to teach to high standards.  For a parent with a good, general high school education (especially one that likes to read), everything is included to help teach to more rigorous standards than many public and private schools are able to.  You can also adjust the speed and timing of the course, allowing “teaching for mastery” which is so vital for progress and retention in the high school years.

What hobbies do your kids pursue and how can they be part of learning?

Please join us as we consider 8 other reasons to homeschool over the coming days!

Why Homeschool?

Why Homeschool?  Appropriate Socialization

Why Homeschool?  Child Led Learning

Why Homeschool?  School Safety

Why Homeschool?  Field Trips

Why Homeschool?  Learning Styles & Multiple Intelligences

Why Homeschool?  Religon

Why Homeschool?  Life Long Learners

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

Why We Homeschool

Another Hatchett Job blog, Creative CommonsWhy do you homeschool?” is a question that we get asked often by polite and curious people.  Impolite people generally give us  “the look” and change the subject.  But, this is often THE question in the whole educational debate!  For people who are unfamiliar with homeschooling and how a homeschool family works (which can seem rather unconventional at times).  I have hesitated to write on this topic because so many people have written so eloquently on the subject that I don’t know what I could add to the topic, but because it is a common question, I decided to throw my two cents worth into the fray.

Over the next (gulp) 9 articles, I will address some of the topics that our family feels strongly about and that we considered heavily before we made the decision to homeschool.  These will include school safety, socialization, academics, religion, flexibility, and some others.

It’s tough to answer this question because it does encompass so many facets of our lives.  And, that being said, homeschooling is a lifestyle choice because it will affect every aspect of how Another Hatchett Job blog, Creative Commons, textbooks, homeschooleach family approaches life.  We don’t all live the same lives and homeschooling won’t necessarily look the same in all situations.  But, that is okay!  Variety is truly the spice of life and that is why often homeschooling families can help each other out with ideas, etc. that really can work.  Sometimes it helps to shake it up a bit and that is exactly one of the strengths of most homeschool families that I know.

I hope you will enjoy taking this look into the often overlooked world of homeschooling over the next couple 0f weeks.  Please bear with me if this is not a topic you are interested in, as other types of posts will return soon.

edited to add:  these links will take you each post in the series.  I will keep them updated as they appear on the blog.

Why homeschool?  Academic Excellence

Why homeschool?  Appropriate Socialization

Why homeschool?  Child Led Learning

Why homeschool?  School Safety

Why homeschool?  Field Trips

Why homeschool?  Learning Styles & Multiple Intelligences

Why homeschool?  Religon

Why homeschool?  Life Long Learners

Do you homeschool?  Why or why not?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett