Traveling light

Published by Lori Pickert on October 2, 2008 at 01:05 PM

Homeschooling isn’t just an educational choice; it’s a lifestyle choice.

We have been trying to make the most of our available freedom, especially since we are also self-employed. We can go to the movies on a Monday afternoon, and we can take vacations in September.

(A friend just told me that her public school no longer accepts travel as an excused absence, so she and her husband won’t be able to bring their children on a great work trip this winter — ridiculous! What is more educational than travel?)

We approach travel in the same way we approach learning — with enthusiasm, a strong interest in an area, no set plans, and not knowing exactly where we’ll go or where we’ll end up. We have a few tools at our disposal — guidebooks, cameras, journals — and we look forward to exploring and finding out things we didn’t know before.

This summer we stood on a bluff above Lake Superior at the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore listening to my 11-year-old explain plate tectonics (his project last year was geology). Then, on a tour of Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, he raised his hand to answer the guide’s question about one of the cave’s early owners, nephew of one William Clark of the Lewis & Clark expedition (a project topic from three years ago). And so, another similarity to our approach to education — everything is connected.

10 comments

Comment by Sarah Jackson on October 2, 2008 at 01:48 AM

So awesome (and did you really post twice in one day? Do I know you?). I love your van.

We have fall break next week and I think we're heading to San Francisco to see the new CA Academy of Sciences and some general exploration. We're going to stay in the city, park the car, and just explore for a few days. Can't wait. Either that or we're heading to the beach. I'm still torn.

Comment by Deirdre on October 2, 2008 at 02:19 AM

Love that photo. Wow, the whole blog got a make-over:-)

Aidan's project for the year (because, even though he goes to public 1st grade, he's still self-directs at home) is aliens. He's spent much of this week creating his own encyclopedia of aliens. I figure at this age, it's okay if it's 99%imagination vs fact-based research. Any suggestions if your sons have ever picked a rather "abstract" topic?

Comment by Molly on October 2, 2008 at 01:07 PM

Thank you for this, Lori. Last week we took Joan (1st gr) out of school for the week to travel to Martha's Vineyard. I didn't ask permission and I don't believe the school condones it - I simply told her teacher (not the administration) that she won't be there. :)

During that time, she managed to complete all of her classroom work + assignments in literally a 1/2 hour here and there, while still enjoying the outdoors and new places, etc. ALL day long. We saw flocks of migrating birds, unusual birds that we otherwise would never have discussed. We looked at the field guides together for identification.

My older girl, who we are homeschooling this year, eagerly continued her geography (which I realize now only after reading your previous post that we can call it her 'chosen project') throughout the week as well. We especially focused on the areas of New England where we stayed.

I am still new to this homeschooling thing. I lack confidence and have many self doubts. But I know this: Helen enjoys learning geography and writing and reading about new places. In her former school they don't approach the topic until the 8th grade. That is ridiculus! How is a child expected to know about world events when they can't even understand the physical boundaries.

Well ... I digress.

You have given me a boost of confidence today. Every small nudge helps. I'm just taking it day by day and trying not to judge it. Of course my biggest concern is always the math. But we're plugging on.

Thanks again for all of your smart perspective.

Nice new layout!

Comment by Megan on October 2, 2008 at 01:48 PM

You must be joking - children who are penalized if their PARENTS take them somewhere?

As if they are BETTER OFF SITTING IN THE CLASSROOM?

(down girl... heel... sit... stay...)

That's really sad. When my father was in the Army, my parents deliberately chose an overseas assignment so that they could take us traveling and suck the marrow out of each location. We visited rivers, castles, museums, caves, went to festivals, camped, hiked, and explored our way across Europe. It was so great!

I can't believe that diving in to all that richness and discovery would be reprimanded and penalized if we were to try it now...

How can a out-of-date slideshow or a chapter 3 quiz compare to wandering through the real thing, touching, smelling, interacting, discussing, making connections... It makes me want to pack up and go right now...

Thanks for bringing all that wonder to my morning, Lori. I get hung up on trying to "cover what they get in school" or else I worry that I am missing something. But, when I do that, THEY are missing something that I would actually LOVE to give them - freedom to discover and enjoy the larger world.

Good luck on your trips! We will miss you back here in Midwestville...

Comment by Lori Pickert on October 2, 2008 at 01:52 PM

thank you all re: the new look. squarespace upgraded to version 5, offering three columns, so i had to pick a new design. i’m very happy with the new look!

sarah, enjoy san francisco! we ascribe to the park-and-explore method of travel. fewer expectations and fewer plans equal a more relaxing trip with time to follow the side paths, i think. (including the beach ;^)

deirdre, right off the top of my head, i would probably gather a lot of library books about planets and space travel. and, of course, a ton of recycled materials and tape! ;^) let me know how it goes!

molly, that “all work done in a half hour” thing is part of the lifestyle choice i was talking about .. when school fits into your life rather than the other way around! let’s talk about projects .. keep me informed!

Comment by greenchickadee on October 2, 2008 at 03:11 PM

Lori, so glad you're back to the blogworld! Missed ya! And as always, such great posts. We were contemplating taking a zip down to the gulf coast and worried about gas prices and even FINDING gas. You've convinced me. It's al just an adventure, no matter where we go or what happens! Update in a couple weeks on the migrating birds we'll see at Port St. Joseph!! Thanks for the encouragement!

Comment by Lori Pickert on October 2, 2008 at 05:28 PM

aw, thank you! and i know - the gas shortage down south is making me hesitant about a planned road trip to savannah. but you're right - either way, it’ll be an adventure! ;^)

the coast sounds fantastic, and i can’t wait to hear about your trip!

Comment by Christina on October 3, 2008 at 08:14 PM

I really don't understand how travel couldn't be an excuse for an absence. My thought process would almost sound like political propaganda if I said it out loud... it's just a way to keep us in our place. ha ha So of course I won't say that out loud. I was really worried about our lifestyle and how much it has changed since we had our child. Especially since we are both a bunch of wandering gypsies and have been stationary now for quite some time. But after reading this, it's just another reason on top of a million why I could see that Homeschooling could fit. It was very encouraging.

Comment by Lori Pickert on October 3, 2008 at 09:53 PM

I agree, and I think traditionally travel *was* seen as an educational opportunity, but these days with the importance put on a school's performance on standardized tests, I think school administrators feel like they need to discourage children from ever missing school for any reason. (Although this is more than discouragement...)

Comment by Megan on October 5, 2008 at 12:35 AM

A neighbor is selling their VW bus / camper thing and I am sooooooooo tempted! I would love to pack the boys in and go... wherever!

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