Thursday, 4 July 2013

Boat school out and about

"The important thing is to not stop questioning."
Albert Einstein, 1879-1955



Packing books and pencils into the bag and going ‘somewhere else’ has long been a favourite, even when the eldest started school and had reading to do in the evenings we would often combine that with a dog walk in the summer - stopping by the river to read, sometimes with an ice-cream. It’s great to be able to decide to spend a day at a museum or sit outside to do art. They’ve run around a car park pretending to be planets, counted boats and pontoons for numeracy, sat at coffee bars doing literacy, learnt numeracy and languages in the supermarket. We love being able to remove the boundaries and take learning into the real world and yes, they have also learnt the really important stuff like how to programme a washing machine, do hand washing, what can not be tumble dried and how to cook and clean and how to react in an emergency. Possibly one of the most important things we have taught them is how to stop look around and say ‘wow’.


I don’t mean to make them sound abnormally angelic, of course there are days when they don’t want to do literacy or just don’t ‘get it’. Home education can sometimes be tough going (for children and adults!) and does require planning – preparing worksheets, making sure they all have appropriate work books before they finish the last one, preparing lessons which work together but cater for 3 different ages, finding exciting stuff to do, reacting to opportunities such as being told that the replica Shackleton boat would be named at the marina the next day. But it is a delight when we sit around in pyjamas discussing politics or geography, poke in rock pools or decide on a PE day and go for a long bike ride or sometimes just enjoy the chance to listen as they talk non-stop about their latest hare brained scheme.



We worked the boys quite hard over the winter with the intention of spending more time exploring than studying once we started moving again. Travelling through the Basque country we have found lots of museums, art galleries (including the Guggenheim), natural phenomena, wildlife and had lots of opportunities for learning ‘in the world’ – watching chocolate being made, poking around amongst the sea life, walking city walls and seeing political demonstrations. These have triggered lots of other research in books and on the internet, drawings, writing and long discussions about how, when, where and why. That is to me what home education is all about, taking the opportunities available and knitting together a web of knowledge.


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