Sneaking School Into Busy Days… How We Learn Every Day On The Go!

On the Go

I believe the most authentic learning doesn’t necessarily happen during our “school” time.  Some of our best educational experiences these days are happening in the in between times, often away from home, while on the go, and even on weekends. I try to find teachable moments in the everyday things we have to do in our lives.   Let me give you a peek!

There is a shift happening in our homeschool!  Wait, actually there isn’t.  The shift isn’t in our homeschool… it’s in the perspective of this homeschooling mom.  I used to think real learning only happened during our “school time.” This year I’m realizing the real learning actually happens ALL of the time!

In the whopping 3 weeks since our “first day of school” my family has been busier than EVER!  It is fall.  It is the busy season for my photography business.  My husband has been buried up to his EYEBALLS in a training course for work.  Our dog is sick.  Our ministries are active.  And the field trip opportunities seem to be endless.  Truth be told… we are lucky to get 2 “normal” schooling days in in a week.  TWO!  Yet, my children have learned more in 3 weeks than I can even wrap my brain around.

Let me tell you how I’ve accomplished this.

1. Let them teach themselves!

I have been blessed with excellent and excited readers.  The reading culture is one that I’ve carefully cultivated in our home since they were born.  My children get incredibly limited screen time (TV, Video games, computers etc.)  and I think that has helped them grow a love for reading.  They go to bed and wake up with a book in hand.  They read far beyond their age level.  It’s glorious and a blessing I refuse to take for granted.  Every couple of weeks we head to the library and come home with a CART full of books.  We leave with no less than 50 at a time.  MANY of these books are informational in nature. They choose books based on their interests and I choose books based on the topic we are pursuing in our homeschool. They learn more from the books than I could EVER dream of teaching them myself.  In fact, they usually teach me about what THEY have learned.

The books inspire their creativity!  It is a common occurrence that my boys will see something in a book and then go off and try and create their own version.  This year we are studying the middle ages.  They saw a project in a book about making knights chainmail armour with aluminum foil and they set about making it.  And while they completed that project they looked at other books with information about chainmail armor so they could be sure they got their project right.  Then they appeared covered in aluminum foil spouting off information about chainmail armor that I never knew.  All of this happened in the evening during what is supposed to be “non-school” time while Daddy was cooking dinner and Mommy was trying to catch up on photo editing.  Its a project I could have conjured up… but I don’t know when I would have found the time.  Somehow I bet they learned more as the project came from them and not from me.  

2. Audiobooks!

An extension of reading above, and great for the child who isn’t into reading, audio books can bring learning alive while letting Mom or dad off the of the hook to do other things.  My children ADORE listening to audio books purchases from audible.com or borrowed from the library while they create with Legos.  I end up with time to tackle another project or work with my preschooler while they learn.

2. Netflix Schooling.

Once in awhile I can find a GREAT documentary on a topic of interest.  In 2 hours they can learn more about something than I ever could teach them in a week.  This isn’t limited to Netflix either.  Checkout Youtube and Amazon too.  We recently watched a Discovery documentary on “Going Medieval.”  They’ve been refining their Lego castles and their “Castle” fort (a full size homemade replica of a castle – at least according to their imagination) ever since.

3. Carschooling.

We spend quite a bit of time in the van these days.  Whether we are driving to Karate, a field trip, to church, or the grocery store… children are captive audiences when strapped into the car!  This is another place where audiobooks can come in handy.  We’ve also sung songs to help us learn math facts and chanted rhymes to help us with other memory work.  Carschooling can be a very efficient use of time.

4. Real Life Homeschooling.

This is when you use your everyday life to teach your children.  Recently we needed to make cupcakes to celebrate my mother-in-law’s birthday.  Ezra loves to cook.  So he and my husband banded together to get the job done.  First they researched recipes, then they create shopping lists, after that they went shopping where they read and compare labels.  They kept a running total of items in the cart to ensure they stayed in budget.  They also counted out the cash to give to the cashier. Something makes me believe my Ezra is far more likely to remember what a quarter looks like and how much it is worth after experiences like these than if he had just filled out a bunch of worksheets.

Then of course at home they had to do the actual cooking and measuring and fractions and all that goes into the actual baking!  Literacy/math/science etc… all rolled up into something that had to be done anyways.

With Joyanna, as a preschooler she’s had to learn everything as we go and I’m amazed by her.  With her brothers I carefully took the time to teach them colors and shapes and number and letters. It was deliberate and planned learning on my part.  With her… well… I haven’t been so deliberate and planned and yet she is learning it all.  It seems our snuggle time with books and chatty conversations as we move throughout the day have taught her much though I am always trying to keep her in mind and come up with projects just for her.  Children really do learn through life.

I recently took my older son out to a church event with me.  It was prayer walk.  Our church is sponsoring a 5k run to raise funds and awareness for human trafficking in our country.  We set out to cover the track in prayer for the upcoming event.  The number of things I had the opportunity to teach my son in this 90 minute outing are too many to list.  Of course we had the opportunity to discuss this important social issue and the impact of it.  Then there was the conversation around WHY God allows things like this in our world.  There was the opportunity for me to model for him how and what to pray for in this situation.  I also found myself passing along lessons about how to engage the other members of the prayer team, how to respect them on the track during their prayer time, and how we can come together as a church body to pray.

This Thursday I plan to take my entire family to our state capitol to pray for persecuted Christians during a prayer vigil my husband has organized in conjunction with prayer vigils around the world.  We’ve been preparing with conversations about what persecution means, with maps that have been poured over as we discuss how Christians are treated around the world, and with study of God’s word.  

If these last two examples aren’t meaningful lessons in civics, geography, cultural differences, and religion than I don’t know what else I could possibly add.

5. Children can teach one another.

I see this all of the time in my own.  One child will learning something cool (usually through a book) and then enthusiastically share it with his brother or sister.  I often hear… “Hey Ezra, did you know medieval knights….” or “Noah, I just read castles….”  My boys also love to read to their sister.  She gets a lot of attention from them.  I think I might take this to the next step and see if I can get them involved in some learning games with her from time to time.  I think they’d all get a lot out of that experience.

Schooling in the business really can be done!

Yes, sometimes we only “do school” twice a week.  I am coming to realize this doesn’t hinder my children’s education, if anything the limited “school” time allows them the freedom to engage in their world and learn more authentic and longer lasting lessons than daily time with workbooks and textbooks might otherwise afford them.

To read about how other homeschool moms sneak school into busy days click here.

Comments

  1. Totally agree with you- we sound as busy as you and it’s a stretch. Love the resources you list. Thanks!

  2. I can relate to SO much of this! I love using Netflix when I’m having a “Mom Needs a Moment” breakdown, and I love having great discussions in the car. I’m not a scheduled, checklist type person, so I am comfortable with just letting the learning happen naturally. That’s not to say I don’t offer lessons, or science experiments or fun activities, but I’m okay with they don’t pan out, and I’m okay if the kids want a different history read-aloud, and I’m okay with their rabbit trails. Children are ALWAYS learning, even if it is at the hardware store, or the church functions or the “Hey, did you know . . . ” moments from their siblings that you mentioned. Real-Life Homeschooling is my favorite! 🙂

  3. You are sharing some great ideas. Best of all, your “unplanned” learning experiences will teach your children how to be lifelong learners rather than thinking that learning only happens through textbooks.

  4. Those are great ideas! We would not be able to function without audio books! We listen in the car and my kids listen to them in their rooms before bed. And we use Netlix quite a bit too!
    I’ve also loved seeing how my older kids can help and teach my younger ones. They think it’s such fun to be involved and they have taught my toddler so many things. I love when she discovers something new and I realize that I’m not the one who taught her that. 🙂

  5. Great Post!

    We are the same. Sometimes we are so busy that I feel that we are ‘failing’ at homeschool until I realise how much learning is happening all the time. We are experiencing a shift in our homeschool too and it is also starting through my perspective and the idea of the ‘renewing of the mind’. Sometimes we have to allow God to change the way we think about education so that we homeschool our kids the way he wants us too – not how our culture (the world) expects us too.

    I’m glad I found your blog! Will be back! Thank you! xo

  6. Absolutely!! I’m a first time homeschooler with 3 young children, the oldest in Kindergarten, and I’m finding all of this to be completely true. We’ve been out of town a lot in the past 2 weeks, so in those weeks, we only had school once or twice a week!! Yet this week, we zip through 3-4 math lessons a day. And my daughter wanted to do school even while running a fever. If we were in school somewhere, she’d be home and not doing lessons, yet at home, we can do school anyway as long as she feels like it. Flexibility is the name of the game.

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