At first, I wavered in my answer, "Well, they're still young (ages 2 & 4). We do some school activities with them..."
The real answer though is THIS:
We read stacks of books every day - with dramatic voices, with time for questions and answers.
We talk about trees, animals, and rocks as we hike on new trails.
We linger at libraries and listen to street performers.
We go behind-the-scenes at important historical places.
We interact with people of different ages, races, & socioeconomic backgrounds.
We volunteer at and tour non-profit organizations 2-4 days out of every single week.
Our girls listen as we ask questions like "What do you attribute to homelessness among our veterans?" and "What do you think the solution is for childhood poverty in our country?"
We try new churches of different denominations. Last week, we went to a church where people wore headcoverings, had beards, and had a big feast with wine + dancing (like from the movies). Before that, we went to a Salvation Army church.
We bake cookies and count teaspoons, cups, and eggs.
We are learning US geography. (I actually know where all the states and most of the major cities are now!)
Our 4-year-old has a pen pal.
We visit with sick children, people with disabilities, and the elderly.
We sample new foods and flavors.
We see people in dozens of careers - as they go about their days.
In short, our girls are seeing the world at work. They are hearing conversations that usually happen away from children's ears - conversations about business, politics, social issues, and money.
Last night as I was tucking our 4-year-old into bed, she whispered, "What organization are we going to tomorrow?" I told her and she smiled back, "And what else are we going to do tomorrow?" I pause, "Lots of wonderful things. I love you. Good night...and don't you dare wake up your sister." ;)
So - YES. I say it with confidence now, "Yes, we are definitely homeschooling."
Your girls are learning so much! So amazing that you guys are able to do this with them!
You are LIFEschooling! It doesn't get any better than that.
My son's preschool teacher is constantly making comments about how much we must "work with him" because he knows so much. Pfffffft. We don't WORK with him... he works with us. ;) He lives life with us! We cook and clean and do yard work and farm work and play basketball and go to daddy's sports events and... and... and.... I'm a firm believer that living life WITH your children, and not setting them aside so you can get things done, is real life learning at its best.
Agreed. I love your description of learning. Lifeschooling...education at its finest. :)
Your list is chock-full of valuable things...no worksheet can match that! And a letter to the penpal (love the pic!)...SO exciting!!!
Sorry it took us so long to get rolling. We just received Sidney's first batch of letters (we get mail from our Tucson address about once every 4-6 weeks)...so fun! :)
I love your wonderful list! What a rich & full education they are getting, in the most real, hands-on way. Thanks for the encouragement to view all those things for what they are - not only fun, family bonding times, but rich educationsal ones too.
Of course you are "homeschooling" but I think technically this might be called "unschooling" or something like that. But really, how much more "schooling" for real life can you get than this??? Seriously, way better than regular "school" sometimes! ;)
True. You might call it unschooling, roadschooling, worldschooling, lifeschooling, or homeschooling. I think all of those terms probably apply. :)
You are totally homeschooling your girls. It is such a interesting life for them and you.
That's totally us...except we're totally not-on-the-road these days. More like homebound homesteaders. And I feel like it's kind of hard to plan concrete activities since our entire day is full of real life valid learning. And it's the same learning she did when she was 3...then 4...now 5. Real life learning that she dictates as she's ready, inspired and curiously eager for it. Love it. Thanks for sharing what you guys are doing. I'm so envious (in a good way) of your journey. :)
Even before I started reading your list yes you are homeschooling! Your trip alone is a BIG field trip!
Great answer. My son is home with me and I am also a working Mom and volunteer. He comes every where with me and gets to do and experience so many things he woudl not ever see. He is wise for 3 and if he can't say his ABC's without forgetting a letter I'm good with that. Home schooling is so much more than just math, reading and writing it is teaching our children about life and to be kind and generous humans. You are certainly doing that. Thanks again for sharing!
Excellent post! So much learning in life takes place out of the classroom - and before and after the ages of 4 and 17. I think sometimes when parents send their kids off to school they 'check learning off the list' like that department is completely handled. My kids are 12 and 15... this summer we are taking them to New York City for a visit. That will be very educational on a lot of levels I'm sure. For us parents as well.
I would love to homeschool my daughter (she is 22 months right now) but family/friends/my husband insist that she needs to get out and experience the traditional social experience of school. So how do you ladies insert social activities into their days and what are the challenges you face with homeschooling? This would really help me in my homeschooling decision making. Thanks!!
Great question, Sara! I was homeschooled through 8th grade and never had a lack for social interaction. Not only did I have my five brothers and sisters, I also was immersed in many activities in the community. I took ballet lessons, played soccer, was enrolled in a Spanish class, volunteered every summer, acted in community plays, and much, much more.
I love your list! Your girls are having wonderful experiences and will carry this with them their entire lives. Our son is 2.5, and it's amazing how much he has learned in that time. We don't have a traditional lesson where we say, "Now we're going to study math" etc. but he has learned counting, all his ABCs and is starting to read just through going about our day-to-day activities.
I am NOT against traditional schools at all, and I don't think people who send their kids to school are "turning the responsibility for educating their kids to someone else" as Jessica said. That would be completely irresponsible on my part. I believe most of learning does happen at home and school can supplement that learning.
Sarah - As a public elementary school teacher, I love how you phrased learning, that it "does happen at home and school can supplement that learning." I believe traditional school offers a lot to a child's education, but without support, encouragement, and explorations at home, it is lacking. Enjoy the adventure!
I can't agree more with Annie! Our daughter goes to public school and we love the school district she is in! Her teachers, principal, school nurse, librarians.....all of us are working together to help grow and teach our daughter. I love that it takes a community to raise a child and we are really blessed to live in a community that values that!
We encourage both of our children to ask questions and we are constantly exploring, talking about new ideas, volunteering in our community, having conversations that people might think are only for adults....the list goes on! Reading, writing and arithmetic are just scratching the surface of learning.
Stephanie~ I love the way you teach your girls! I wish I would've been homeschooled with your way of learning! Your girls are amazing and so mindful of the BIG world around them!
My opinion is that we are all homeschoolers until we decide to turn the responsibility for educating our children over to someone else. When I took my daughters out of school, I was surprised by some of the negative reactions I received. I was the one who taught my daughters to read and write before they went to kindergarten. I was the one who offered them piano lessons at three years old because they were interested. I took them on better trips than school could ever take them. I had loads of educational toys, books, puzzles, games, dolls, dress up clothes, and made sure they were outside as much as possible. Now that we have been homeschooling for over a year I only wish I took them out of school (or never sent them) earlier! Whether or not you decide that your children will go to a traditional school, what you are giving them right now is priceless. Enjoy every minute of it!
Isn't it amazing how easy it is to dismiss all the learning/teaching/schooling we do that doesn't look like traditional school? You are homeschooling your girls and I am homeschooling my kids - even though we haven't started a formal curriculum yet!
One of my favorite things is being able to learn history on-site, or simply visit places I've already learned about - and since American history is one of my favorite topics I don't have to travel far to do that!
Sooooo much of my education was on the road, too. I remember learning history on site. It was a really unique experience and I am grateful your kids have it. You'll have to do it again when they are in 5th grade-ish and will remember more! :)
Yes, you're right - we'll have to do it again when our kids are older! Maybe we'll go "around the world" next time though? :)
Your girls are getting such incredible life exposure and are learning so much on your great adventure. It's so fun to read about it! We don't home school but as I was reading your list I realized we do a lot of learning at home. We cook and bake all the time where math and science come in handy. We grow plants from seeds, and we talk about a lot of things, like that bad man with the mustache (Hitler) and that really bad guy who Obama caught. It's hard to find ways to talk to children about topics as tough as these - to find the middle ground. I'm not comfortable celebrating deaths and killings, but on the other hand they're hearing it on the radio (NPR is always on) and are curious. The ever delicate balancing act of parenting.
Oh I LOVE this! I think you did a fantastic job describing it all! Love that picture of your little girl as well. :)
My real answer to, "When did you start homeschooling?" is "The day each was born...since all of life is learning." Of course, that answer gets weird looks from some...but I don't really care. From one momma of girls to another, you go, girl! :^)
I like your answer, Tina! It's funny/unique/outstanding...and true!
Not sure if you can or how you could do this but I wanted to share this with you.
It is a Book it program for homeschoolers :)
Thanks for that link, Terri. I think I may use it in tomorrow's Tuesday Tours column!
I love your list! It's so true - the best learning happens when you're just living life. My daughter is in grade two, and we are loving our homeschooling experience! I love having her around all day long, I love the conversations we have, I love the stuff that I'm learning along with her, I love it that we read piles of books AND that she reads books on her own for hours a day!
Your travel experiences are making me want to make more road trips happen! It sounds amazing to introduce your children to the world in such a hands-on way. The fact that they are part of giving and serving makes it pretty incredible!
I would say that is more "schooling" of any kind than most children get in their ENTIRE CHILDHOOD! I especially love the "adult" conversations they are involved in - too many parents (I think) act like kids should hear the real talk of life or don't talk about anything of worth in front of their children. I'm all for having fun and goofing around but they should also know what a real conversation looks like, be able to listen, and start learning how to interact in a conversation as well - your "school" sounds amazing!!! I wish I would be able to give that to my children, although I doubt we will travel the US in an RV ever, but.... who knows! :)