Friday, January 3, 2014

A Late Fall of "Field Trips"

Once November hit in our house, it was a season of day to day survival.  Many of our 'extra' projects and fun crafts went out the window.  We worked hard on doubling up on lessons some days since many days would not have anything at all.  While December was filled with the typical holiday rush, we also add a birthday 12 days before and 5 days after Christmas.  Really.  Its like one big, never-ending party.  Despite the hustle and bustle and the desire to keep some sense of structure and learning- we made room for some experiences that simply cannot be replicated in a classroom or by reading a book.  One of the reasons we decided to homeschool was to be able to freely say 'yes' to opportunities like this.

In early November, Isabelle had the opportunity to travel to Bangladesh to visit a children's home we have supported for many years which in turn allowed her to interact with 420 children and meet our three children whom we sponsor.  She went with her daddy, grandma, grandpa, a great aunt, a second cousin, an uncle, and a cousin who is about her age.  From the 24hrs+ of travel, new foods, new language, the heat, 11 hour time difference, and the flurry of that many children wanting to touch your pale skin and play with your blonde hair- it was quite the experience!  For our timid observer it was a stretch for her personality, but she did well after acclimating a couple of days.  She served the children meals, helped teach a song in chapel, danced Bangla, went to 'school' and learn some bangla words and writings, delivered gifts to sponsor children, played games of uno and double dutch, was the ultimate playmate, little sister, and even big sister to the children.  She showed God's love with a child like faith to the 'least of these'.  Her dad and I are so proud of how she handled herself and are so thankful she could take advantage of the opportunity.

In true 'homeschooling fashion' I had her journal while she was away.  Then, when she returned, we compiled her 5 favorite memories and wrote them in newspaper article form (It just so happened that our next unit in WriteShop was on newspaper narratives!).  It was a great way for her to process what she had done and seen and give her a chance to contemplate the 'why's' and feelings of it all.  It also gave me an opportunity to hear about what they did.

We squeezed in some good schooling in late November before Thanksgiving, but then early December we were off on a vacation with extended family.  18 travelers in all, including 8 kids under 10 and an 84 year old great grandma.  While I was tempted to do journalling or keep my eyes open for great learning opportunities, I decided that this field trip needed to be about just enjoying each other.  We watched our girls play in the sand, go down the watersides, and swim in the pools.  By being free to encourage and get excited with one another, Izzy finally warmed up to the idea of swimming independently.  We had done swim lessons in the summer which did not go over well (screaming and gnashing of teeth would be an understatement) but she was capable.  In her own time, she finally did it, swam across the pool, and was on her way.  By the end of the trip she was doing cannonballs and triple somersaults underwater in one breath.

What did I learn from all this?  Sometimes homeschooling adventures are about lifelong behaviors and reaching the heart of the children.  Sometimes it should just be about being.  Being 100% present as parents and cheerleaders and let kids just be kids.  Learning is still happening- sometimes more is gained when I stay out of the way.  Perhaps times of intentional 'absence' as a 'teacher' are the most influential.

I'm linked up at the Hip Homeschool Hop this week!  Check out the other great posts!