Life is the Best Teacher
Books are great. I love books. I collect them, read them, and sometimes I even smell them. (Is that weird? I love the smell of books.) Books can teach us a lot but there are some things that are better taught by life experiences. When we experience something, we remember it better, it becomes ingrained in us. Life lessons come in all shapes and sizes. They can be big moments that change the course of our lives or they can be small, everyday occurrences. Homeschooling gives us the unique opportunity to let our kids spend more of their time in the classroom of life.
Consider if you will, this modern, suburban homeschooling family. They think its just a typical morning but they don't know that they are about the enter the "Life Lesson Zone".
Scene: Early weekday morning, mom is staggering to the coffee maker. All four kids are wide awake and doing all the things. Mama checks the text she received a few minutes ago.
Big Daddy B: *TEXT* Hey honey, when you come upstairs, could you step outside and talk to the tree trimming guys? They were outside working on the neighbors trees so I asked them to cut that loose branch down.
Teaching Mama: *TEXTS BACK* Sure.
Mama walks outside, followed by 3 out of 4 kids. The dog makes an appearance as well but quickly loses interest and goes back inside to nap, again. They walk around the yard to see what other work we would like the tree trimming guys to do while they are here.
Mama: Which branches do you think should come down? Boy B: The lower ones or the dead ones. Mama: What about that maple tree? Boy B: That one looks fine. Its tall but it doesn't hang over anything.
Mama: We should look at that dying crab apple tree in the back yard.
Boy B: Yeah, that one is bad.
* Squishy B is playing with Baby B and takes her back inside.*
Mama: I wonder if it would cost a lot to take that tree down.
Boy B: I don't think it would be too expensive. We should ask the tree guys how much it would cost. Or maybe they could just cut a few branches.
Mama: That's a good idea. If we don't want to do it now, we'll know what to plan for.
They continue talking about the trees as they go inside. A few minutes later, there is a knock at the door. Mama and the middle 2 kiddos follow the tree trimming guy outside to talk about the trees. The tree guy tells them which limbs he thinks should come down.
Tree Trimming Guy: We could raise the canopy of the tree by trimming those lower branches. *to kids* The "canopy" is the top of the tree.
Squishy B: Mom! Look! A chipmunk! Be careful!
Tree Trimming Guy: Its a baby bunny! There must be a nest nearby.
Mama B: I knew we had one in the back yard but I didn't realize there was a nest up here.
TTG: We come across them all the time. The nests are so well hidden you don't see them until you almost step on them.
Boy B: Mom, can I take a picture with your phone?
Boy B stealthily follows the bunny and snaps a few photos. He talks about how the bunny trying to hide from them. He teaches his sister the word "camouflage".
Mama: Let's find the nest to see if there are any more babies.
They search the ground for several minutes.
Mama: Here it is. *Everyone squats down to get closer.*. Do you see how the grass is dug up just a little bit? And there are tufts of bunny fur. The mama bunny puts her own fur in the nest.
Boy B: Probably to keep it warm.
Mama: Exactly. She insulates the nest with her own fur. They use a stick to gently lift the grass covering and look further into the nest. It is empty.
Mama: It looks like the babies have left the nest.
Squishy B: I'm going to go watch the baby bunny for a while.
Boy B: I wonder if there are other babies around the yard?
Mama goes back inside to check on the other kids.
About 10 minutes later, Mama wonders where Boy and Squishy have gone. She walks outside to find them hauling branches across the street to the big pile the tree trimmers have going.
Boy B: Do they get paid a lot of money? I think that would be a fun part time job to have.
Mama: They can make a lot of money but it can sometimes be dangerous work.
Boy B: Yeah, but it would be kind of fun. Using big tools, climbing in the trees or using that big truck. I wonder how old you have to be?
Mama: Probably 18, but we can find out.
In case you didn't figure it out - that suburban homeschooling family is us. (Shocker!) Its now mid-morning and we are just starting on some math out of a book but the learning started way earlier, before the books were even touched. We had science and social studies going on right outside our door! We learned the words "camouflage", "canopy", and "insulate". We learned about the nesting habits of rabbits. We had a field trip in the front yard to see an occupation in practice as we learned about the process of tree trimming. We practiced decision making skills together. Sure, we can read about stuff like this but its just not the same. Let life be the teacher - she's really good at it!
The bunny nest!