Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Our classroom today...

was this:

Well, this and two other ponds, the area surrounding them, etc.

I often get asked about how homeschooling works by parents who send their kids to public and private schools. They ask about my schedule. They ask how I get them to do their work. They ask if we are very definite about when we are in school. It becomes obvious that they can't imagine homeschooling because they are thinking of putting the classroom into the home. I know there are homeschoolers that work that way. But it is so far from what I do that I usually end up laughing.

Today is a perfect example. We spent 5 hours playing in the ponds at a nature center. They had a bucket that had nets, bowls, spoons, magnifying glasses, and a page of pictures and names of the things we might see. We saw snails and minnows and water boatmen, leeches and water mites and damselfly nymphs and side swimmers. We saw turtles and dragonflies and hawks. The kids were at their best. There were 6 kids, and none of them melted down, there were no fights, there was a great deal of teamwork, and it was one of the most delightful days! I attribute a great deal of that to them being in their element.

And that is what homeschool often looks like for us. Time spent immersing ourselves into the learning. Time spent with others who are doing the same thing. Time spent in a great big classroom without walls. There were no books, no computers. One double-sided piece of paper told us as much as we needed to know. The kids were not even aware they were learning. They didn't know "school" was happening. And that is when I know we are at our best. They will remember far more that they saw and learned today than they ever would if I tried to teach it to them sitting at the dining room table, which is where most people assume I homeschool. I should take a picture of the table for you. Then you could laugh, too, because there is very little chance we would be doing school among the piles there!

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