One of the biggest benefits of choosing to homeschool is that we can use all of life to provide learning experiences for our children. But we don’t have to provide every learning experience ourselves – just like schools use different teachers with different skills (especially in highschool) we too can look outside our family and see others in our life, or in our community that can contribute towards our children.
Last month a friend relayed a story of how they had a minister come to their church for a short term (3 months). In getting to know this man they found out that he was a nature buff – he loved nature. The mum made a mental note to invite him to speak to her family but nothing was ever done. A week before he left town she finally asked him to come and talk to her girls. They sat there entranced with all he had to share – nature was his passion and children respond to that very quickly!
Another friend has people coming and going through her farming property all the time. She is in the habit of exchanging bed and board (so to speak) for a skill they can offer the family – building, cooking, mending or whatever. The idea is that they will take on a project where at least one of her children can be either an observer or a participator. The only qualification they need is ability and/or passion. This brings a great opportunity to the children as they are exposed to all sorts of skills and interests – broader than their immediate family sphere.
One afternoon when Peter’s dad was here he took the kids over to the shed and taught them how to mount insects. This was one of Grandad’s best subjects at university a long time ago! He has kept his knowledge alive, as it was applicable to his life on the farm. He made a board just to “dry the insects out” on. This board helps you pin the insect’s body parts as you want to view them (such as stretched out wings) and once they are dried they will be mounted to a white pin board and put under glass. The kids spent the week catching insects this week – they found about 5 different winged insects – one being a very large grasshopper. Grandad stretched out one of its wings and on the other side made sure we could see its leg structure. Did you know the grasshopper has a beautiful wing? We were amazed.
Over the years we have had missionaries, travellers, photographers, scientists, actors and performers, public speakers, computer buffs, people who love plants, and many others all come through our home. In our community we have had people who love looking at the stars, a farmer who can explain plant reproduction, a professional photographer and a Newspaperman. We have had a highschool manual arts teacher spend time with our ‘primary school’ children. We have a computer man, an electrician and other tradesmen, who come through the house for work often. Each one of these people have been thrilled to have the children watch, ask questions or even to spend a whole hour showing them something of their expertise.
Exposing your children to other people’s skills and interests is a great way to broaden their education.All it needs is for us to be aware of the people around us, or people who cross our path, be interested in them, and as you talk to them you’ll discover passions, interests, expertise that you can ask them to share with your kids – every one will be richer for it!
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