Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My Kids Love Experiential Learning

One benefit of homeschooling is having more control over a child's time, meaning, having more freedom and flexibility.

Homeschooled children can do things that schooled kids just don't have time to do. One thing homeschooled children have is more opportunities for experiential learning.

Some towns rave that their fifth graders do "Nature's Classroom" for one week in fifth grade. Sadly that is the only time the students get any real experiential learning in their thirteen years in public school.

I am happy that my children can do a once a week experiential nature class (science). Yes it is a bit of a drive. Yes it costs money for tuition and gasoline. Yes it means they are not home to do homeschooling lessons that day. Yes the program is great. Yes the program is imperfect. Yes there are sometimes problems with the program, most usually with new teachers.

It is hard to capture in a photo but I did it this time. I caught the pure joy in my older son's face. This was the end of six hours hiking in the woods and swimming (with clothes on) in what they call the "beaver bog".

Yes we have deer ticks in Connecticut. Yes my children get ticks while in this class. Yes my children have had Lyme Disease.

Before this program began we did family nature walks and hikes but my kids were a little afraid of bugs (especially bees) and they knew nothing of native plants or edibles (gag at the thought!) and they preferred pool swimming to lake-beach swimming. After enrolling in the program they learned about plants and trees and bugs and birds. They are not afraid of dirt or mud or slogging through a swamp or standing on a beaver dam or squeamish about having a leech on them or swimming in a river. They haul rocks and logs, help build shelters and dig rocks from stream beds (although they still don't like to put their clothes in the hamper or make their beds at home).

The benefits of this program outweigh the negative's.

My kids love this class. I hope it remains a good program and we are able to continue having them partcipate in it.


Kool Aid said...

I love this idea of active learning!! Is there a way to see if there is a similar program where we are? How did you find this for your children?

christinemm said...

Back when we first enrolled I learned of it through word of mouth from a homeschool mom friend in my area.

Later I started spreading the word, as did others as the program needed more participants. Now the program has a written invitation that gets spread over email homeschool groups to get the word out. Also now there is a blog for the org not just a static website.

A second program like this cropped up in my area also, but we just do one program.

You might have to create something like this yourself in your area. If you look for primitive skills practitioners they might start a program.

Before we did this more intensive 6 hour long class my boys did an Audubon Center class with a passionate instructor specifically designed for HS kids and only given to HS kids which was also experiential learning based. That instructor was excellent and when it began it only cost $3 per hour, ridiculously low! It was held on site at an Audubon Center and basically all outdoors in woods, meadows, river and at a vernal pool.

This is an example of why it is important to network in your local area and attend adult-only homeschool support group meetings, make friends and share resources like these gems.

mamak said...

Looks like they had an amazing day!

Latte Lady said...

I would LOVE to find something like this in our area. I have no idea where to start...


Headmistress, zookeeper said...

Please pass the word, the Carnival of Homeschooling is up (and this post is in it).

Thanks for participating!

Joi said...

I wish that we had something like this here.

LivingByLearning said...

I've seen these programs mentioned in our local homeschool Yahoo Groups, we've put off signing up my son due to the cost in time & money, but I'm considering it for next year. In the meantime, we're doing a lot of experiential learning as a family.

See Mud People