Monday, August 27, 2012

Back to School

Summer is coming to an end. The first day of school is upon us. Wherever we go, there are back to school sales and parents stocking up on notebooks, pens, pencils and myriad other things on their school supplies lists.

Recently, while we were shopping, a cashier asked my kids if they were excited about the first day of school. Most of them grinned and shrugged. One said, "That was so long ago, I don't even remember!" Surprised, the cashier asked what she meant. She explained that we're homeschoolers and never stop learning, which meant that her first day of school was the first time someone taught her something, which was when she was just a baby.

When asked to elaborate, I hesitated, thinking carefully about what to say. The gentleman interrupted, saying, "why don't you tell me what you did on Friday"...   

On Friday we went to Old Sturbridge Village, a popular Summer destination for many families.    
                       
My kids had fun playing with hoops and sticks, as in the days of yore - physical education with a touch of history! 


We witnessed pottery being made, learned what items were available in the general store and the difference between everyday pottery and the pottery you'd use when guests were visiting. 



The photo to the left, taken by Coren, age 6, is the inside of a kiln. If you don't know what a kiln is, I'm sure he'd be happy to explain, as he asked dozens of questions and decided it might be a good idea to build one at our house.

From raising livestock, to farming the land, to churning butter, to handcrafting necessities and playthings, the kids had a blast exploring life in the early 1800s. Perhaps the favorite was watching the blacksmith work. 

Wherever we went, we learned something. We just couldn't help it!

Perhaps the most exciting lesson of the day was learning the cure for being hot, tired, and hungry: ice cream!

That's not where the day ended. After the day's festivities, we went home for a brief rest and then were off to a potluck event at a friend's house. Many fun and interesting games ensued - all invented by the children participating in them. Costumes on, swords and other assorted weapons at the ready, the wild rumpus began. 

There was a hot air balloon festival just around the corner, so after we shared a meal with friends, we were off!

The kids were amazed to see a hot air balloon being unpacked, laid out, inflated, and then lift off. They may have learned a thing or two about the physics of hot air vs cold air in the process. 

Last, but not least, were the fireworks. After answering perhaps hundreds of questions throughout the day, I just wanted to sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. The little ones, however, had different plans. How do they make the different colors? Why do some make big booms and some make little booms? How to they make them whistle? sparkle? glitter? How do they shoot them so far up into the air? 

The cashier, amazed, commented, "If this was summer vacation - I can't imagine what a day of "school" must be like!"

I assured him that not every day was as exciting or educational as last Friday. I explained that in encouraging my children's inquisitive and adventurous natures, my husband and I are instilling in them a joy of exploring the world around them and satisfying their curiosity - or in other words, learning. 

Sure, we can learn from books, or from someone explaining something to us, or a combination of the two, but true learning comes from doing. From experiencing. From asking questions and seeking out the answers. From teaching others what you have learned. And from doing so with passion and joy. 













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