I tell the kids about the connection between their new favorite song - I've Been Working on the Railroad - and the people who actually work and build railroads.
Discovering some railroad nails we tap on the track and learn how sound travels by putting our ear to it down the line.
As mom and 'chief educator', I'm loving the natural learning that's taking place on a simple walk through the woods on an average day on the road.
I've been 'home-schooling' my children since my oldest was born eight years ago. It's been a trial and error process with a lot of experimentation.
While I've attempted scheduled subjects with workbooks and the like, over the years I've gravitated to more of a 'natural learning' type method - kind of a mesh between unschooling and a Thomas Jefferson Classical Education model, with a mix of Montessori and some language immersion.
A favorite quote of mine is by Plato which states:
"Suffer not to teach the child, for knowledge acquired under compulsion has no hold on the mind. Rather, find the natural bent that the child may learn."
Through experience, I've discovered that my children learn best, retain more, and are generally most excited about a 'subject' when it's something they choose themselves.
They make that choice by asking a question, expressing an interest, or attempting something new.
As their mother and their education mentor, I'm on the lookout for clues about the choices they're making about their education.
My role in this process is to provide those opportunities for learning - through new experiences, materials, books, discussions.
When I notice their attentiveness or curiosity, I'm all over it like bees on honey.
I encourage, share, explore, support - and the learning experiences that we share as a result are like gold in an education coffer.
Before leaving on our Epic Expedition, I was asked if we would be taking our 'schooling' with us, since we were leaving before the school year ended.
I wasn't sure how to answer this question.
I suppose if you're asking about 'schooling' - schedules, workbooks, subjects - then the answer is 'No', we're not taking that on our trip.
But if you're referring to learning and education - well, is that confined to hours of the day or months in the year? Does it have to be separated into subjects, as if science and photography can have nothing in common?
Can't learning happen anytime, anywhere and especially when introduced to new circumstances and experiences?
Part motivation for taking to the road was to provide new possibilities for discovery, which naturally leads to engaged learning - learning where minds are interested, involved and illuminated to new ideas, concepts, histories, beliefs and impressions.
You can tell your children about a glacier, what it is, what it looks like, how big it is, what affect it has on the land.
Or you can go and see a glacier and visit the lake that is it's 'foot print', and that information is experientially absorbed and understood.
While at the bathroom we practice reading, and play the compound game, one of Aaliyah's favorites - rest + room = restroom; out + house = outhouse.
We hike a trial, read the history of homesteaders, discover the habitat of northern animals, examine the view of a glacier, and begin a photography project - all in an afternoon.
In the car we sing songs, create lists, do dot-to-dots and practice our Spanish.
Reading the highway signs - Avalanche Area Do Not Stop - we learn new vocabulary and search for avalanche trails on the mountainside.
Collecting rocks, we learn that they possess different qualities - some are soft and come off in layers like shale; others are white, spotted, black, even blue (with spray paint).
In the car, daddy and I listen to Core and Love of Learning by Oliver and Rachel Demille (hard to get a hold of, but highly, highly recommended).
Ideas increase, enthusiasm abounds and confidence soars - we love learning together this way.
More specifics and ideas for education on the road coming soon.
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