So how do you receive counsel about homeschooling from non-homeschoolers? Do you grin and bare it? Do you stick your fingers in your ears? Do you nod your head in agreement with something you know you’ll never actually worry about or do? Do you roll your eyes? Do you give the reasons why the speaker doesn’t actually know anything about what they are talking about? What do you do when people, seemingly with the utmost concern, come up and offer you advice on how to homeschool?
I recently vacationed to a foreign country with my family, which includes two school-aged children. I was a bit bemused by the number of comments that I got about my children and school. I especially got lots of comments while in airports and planes.
It always started, “so you must have just been down here for the weekend”, or “you must just be coming down just for the weekend, because of school. So how long are you here for?”
My answer (said with a little hesitance, because I knew what was coming next) “No actually we’re down here for almost two weeks.”
Looks of shock and dismay. So I always rushed to explain without waiting, “We homeschool.”
The first time I stopped there, but got one of those knowing looks like, “Ahah, bold faced truants.”
After that I rushed on to say, “We brought our school with us.”
That calmed the fears of some. I don’t know if it was completely true though. It depends what the definition of “brought our school with us” is. I have the feeling that if they watched us, they wouldn’t have agreed with my statement at all. We really truly vacationed. My school-aged children brought along books to read. A couple of them actually were readers. See, I told you, that we brought school with us. They brought along their nature journals and some pencils. Isn’t that bringing school with us? We had our snorkel gear. Surely that counts for school stuff. We read a book on the life of Christ everyday. We studied from the most important textbook of all, the Bible.
Maybe I should have said, “We’ll make it up in the summer.” But I haven’t planned our summer out yet. I’m sure it will be full of nature study too, so will it actually be more school-like than our vacation? Maybe, I don’t know.
So, do I think that my kids were schooled while we were vacationing? I do. While I do think that they need to get some math done now that we’re home, I happen to think that they learned tons while we were vacationing and I’m off to record our learning experiences in my journal.
They snorkeled and saw lots of neat fish. They went birding every day with their dad and saw and identified some of the neatest birds, you can imagine. They had hands-on social studies and geography lessons. They were encouraged that learning Spanish was a practical thing to do.
Now I have this question for you. What do you count as school? Do you have to do math, reading, language arts, penmanship, spelling, history, science, Bible, etc. before you count it as a homeschool day? Do you count field trips? What do you call a field trip? Don’t you think that vacation counts as one long field trip?
I still don’t consider our family unschoolers. I do however appreciate the learning opportunities that come from things other than textbooks.
I do believe in “doing school”. I’ve just started to really believe that sometimes we overdo school, when actually it’s the experiences around us that help our children to learn and remember.
P.S. I actually wrote this post last year after a vacation. We did just return from another vacation to the same spot and it reminded me that I had never actually posted this. This year, I didn’t hear anybody ask about school. Maybe I was too busy trying to keep a squirmy baby in my arms and to look like I was in complete control of her, I don’t know. We did get in a really fun math lesson on this trip. My husband spent a couple of hours teaching my two school-aged kids all about cameras–aperture, shutter speed, etc. They know it better than I do. Hurrah! Score for including math on our vacation! It was school for sure!
These pictures are from our most recent trip.