Does Vacation Count for School?

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?

Kids playing at the beach

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.

Orange Fronted Parakeet in Captivity

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.

Mama and Baby

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.

4 thoughts on “Does Vacation Count for School?

  • February 24, 2011 at 6:53 am

    Your kids are in the best school available!

  • February 24, 2011 at 9:44 am

    Vacation definitely counts for school, as do field trips. This is learning at its best! When we’re on vacation we always log lots of hours in P.E. (hiking, swimming), science (Yellowstone, caves,) & history/geography (Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Civil War battle sites), art (visiting museums, Native American petroglyphs), etc. depending on what where we go and what we have planned.

  • February 24, 2011 at 10:44 am

    Well, we lean toward the unschooling side of the spectrum, but I absolutely count vacations, trips to town, and pretty much everything else as “school”. My guess is, if you were to talk to a GOOD teacher (there are awesome teachers and teachers who shouldn’t be teachers, and everything in between), and asked them if they’d rather spend a week teaching their students about birds, or spend a week taking them birding, most, if not all, teachers would say that if the logistics would work, they would jump at the chance to take their students birding!

    But even small things . . . when we go to the grocery store we talk about price comparisons, and nutrition and whatever else they notice and think to ask about. That’s learning and education and the fact that we homeschool means that I generally can take time to show them about those price comparisons and ingredient lists and whatever else while we’re shopping. That’s school! Not to mention we usually listen to audiobooks and such in the car that are absolutely educational (currently loving Jonathan Park! I’ve learned way more creation science than I ever learned in school, and I went to Christian schools). When we travel with my husband for his work, I often take the kids to children’s museums, science museums &/or zoos, all very educational thankyouverymuch!

    And to answer your initial question, how I respond to “advice” depends on the person giving it, the advice given, and, to some extent, my mood. When my father informed me that I would certainly need to use a rigid spelling curriculum because “studies show that homeschoolers are poor spellers” (I’m not sure what studies he was reading, I’m sure some are, but there are generally a few homeschoolers much farther along in the national spelling bee than *I* could ever have gotten, but anyway), I rolled my eyes at him and said “because a rigid spelling curriculum obviously worked for you and me” (I’m a far-from-wonderful speller and his spelling is horrible!). It shut him up LOL. But in many cases, yes I just smile and nod and pass the bean dip :)

  • March 11, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    Hi Rhonda,

    My Grandfather always used to say, take your kids out of school for a year and travel around Australia, they will learn far more that way.

    I happen to agree with him. Life skills and the lessons that come from everyday life provide amazing learning experiences, that are far more meaningful and easily remembered. Holidays also provide that special parent/child time that you don’t always make the time for at home – learning together in a fun way! Well done I say.

    Also in response to the negative comments inregards to Homeschooling. God has given us children to raise in the best way we know how. If he has lead us to homeschool (which I believe he has) then we are doing what is best for our children. I can lie straight in bed at night, knowing that I am preparing my children for heaven. Homeschooling is a fantastic means for moulding characters and hearts for heaven, as our children learn academically.

    Congratulations on the birth of your new little princess too!!

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