Learning Opportunities On The Trail

So many of you unexpectedly have your children home with you full time due to the coronavirus crisis. You can read a little more of our journey here. You’ve suddenly had several choices to make about your children’s education. Will they attend full time, be in a partial program, online only? What are the requirements to be in school physically? What supplies do I add to my shopping list? So many questions! Many of you have gone and jumped in with both feet to the regular homeschool world. Welcome to the community! We’re a pretty cool bunch if I do say so myself. 

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Whether you are straight up homeschooling, doing a partial program, or a virtual program; I hope to give you the crisis school silver lining in this post. 

If you are back to school on a full schedule, you can still do these fun activities with your family. So hang with me!

Our Educational Journey

Never before in my life have I been ahead of a trend. But now at least I can say that I was homeschooling before it was cool. All joking aside, this is a good opportunity to share some of the reasons that we chose this road in the first place. This is actually a question that I get asked fairly often. We love the Classical and Charlotte Mason models of education. Our style is a mesh between the two. These differ from what the typical teaching philosophy of a regular Monday – Friday school would be whether public or private. We also realized that the time that kids are at home is relatively short compared to the average life expectancy. We are soaking up all the time with our little birds as we can while they are still in the nest. We currently have a sixth grader, a fourth grader, and a pre-k. I feel like the next time I step out my front door it will be to drive them off to college! For that and many more reasons, I’m glad that we stepped out in faith on this proverbial trail.

We had some major changes when the Covid crisis hit. While it’s true that we were able to carry on with our regularly scheduled academic program, there were still lots of things that we missed out on as well. The girls have been taking dance lessons for years, and they attended a club at my parents’ church one night each week. Those activities were suspended for months. We loved our extracurricular activities for the fun we had doing them but also for the friends that our children have at those venues. Being homeschoolers, we have to make it a point for our kids to get together with others. Our church also didn’t meet for over three months and our friends and family there are an important part of our social support system. 

Jocelyn likes to work on her bed.

These adjustments probably sound very familiar to all of you. Plus, for many of you, school was first closed temporarily; then relocated to YOUR kitchen table. I can’t imagine the monumental adjustment that was for so many families. We chose this road with eyes open to many of the challenges. Many of you got thrown into the deep end sans water wings! 

The Silver Lining

You now have so many opportunities to learn alongside your children! I’m having a blast relearning all the things I forgot from my school days and watching my kids discover new things for themselves all the time. Take heart, my trail friends. This is a long through-hike. Think AT not 5K. You will make it and have that rush of accomplishment when you get to the last summit.

Here are Four Learning Activities for the Trail

1.Time you walk/run and try to improve your time. 

Every cell phone has a stopwatch feature. Bring a notebook and record each family member’s time. Go back to the same spot on the trail multiple times and see how fast you can get.

2. Measure distance in various ways.

Record the distance of your walk or ride with an app like STRAVA. When you get home, try converting the miles to other measurements; kilometers, meters, inches, yards, etc. Hello, math lesson!

3. Get some guidebooks to identify trees and plants along the trail. 

We once attended a guided nature walk on our local rail trail. Although there may not be events like that forthcoming, a huge part of homeschool philosophy is becoming autodidactic (self-teaching). Order some books, hit the trail, and discover your natural surroundings!

4. Observe and sketch the same tree over time. 

There will be a full post coming on this topic. Briefly though, choose a tree on the trail that you can walk to easily. Get each child a notebook for sketching the tree and recording weather conditions on each visit. You will see the changes over the course of the seasons. 

Lexi at her desk ❤️

I hope that everyone with kids still at home is encouraged by this post and will try these activities. Remember, the days are long, but the years are short!

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