A guest post on homeschooling, from Sarah Elwell, a poet and writer. If you haven't visited Sarah's blogs, Knitting the Wind, or gnossienne be prepared to have your heart stirred and soul moved. What I especially love about this post, is that there is so much to take away from it, whether you are homeschooling or sending your children to a more traditional school. We can all benefit from the different ways our children learn...especially in nature.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++When I first began homeschooling, I didn't appreciate how vast our classroom would be. I had no internet in those days, and all my understanding of homeschooling was based on the scant few books I found at the local library. But the thing I did not realise back then, although I take it for granted now, is that when your heart is open to the world around you, the world opens its heart to you too.
Not even the best traditional school could provide the expert tuition children receive simply by being out in the daily life of regular society. From professionals to homeschooling parents, adults are endlessly welcoming and they actually like to share their knowledge. Firemen, paleontologists, zoo keepers, butterfly farmers, forensics officers, artists, potters, sportsmen, shopkeepers, ornothologists, geologists, historians, writers, flax weavers, lion wranglers ... There's no way one teacher, no matter how dedicated and brilliant, could replicate such breadth and depth of experience. And I don't see how any school could justify the resources needed to provide all the field trips homeschoolers can do easily and often.
And there's another great teacher from whom homeschoolers learn: nature. For example, our local homeschool group, on a woodland walk to sketch autumn leaves, found a stony river and the children spontaneously built a dam, learning about physics in the process. There was no need to insist on the leaf-sketching, nor to hurry them off at the end of an hour. We mothers sat in the sunshine, picnicking, discussing lesson plans and good books, while our children got on with their learning, socialising, and sheer fun.
Because they have regular opportunities to be outdoors, knee-deep in (and heart-full of) nature, a homeschooled child can develop a good weather eye, or an instinct for bird behaviour, or a deep connection with plants. They can sit for hours in the garden, counting bird species. They can go swimming in the sea on summer afternoons while school children are sweltering in classrooms. I know homeschooling children who forage for wild food, hand-rear baby birds, run backyard weather stations, tend their own vegetable gardens, and are experts on local wildlife. They may not necessarily know all the important dates of history (although then again they might) but they do know how to truly engage with the natural world.
Thank you so much Sarah! xxoo