Friday, September 22, 2006

Traveling is one of the best things we can do with our children. It can be as simple as a day trip to a new city or as involved as a two-week stay in a different country. The rewards are great.

My parents always took me on all their vacations. Now I was not really homeschooled, but I can tell you that what sticks to me and are the most useful in my adult years are the after-school education my parents gave me and the travels. I was born and raised in Aruba. People on this small island love to travel. My parents and I visited Curacao, Bonaire, Venezuela, Colombia, Martinique, Barbados, St. Thomas, Tortola (part of the US Virgin Islands), Dominica, Grenada, St. Maarten, Mexico, and Costa Rica. In the U.S. we visited Florida, New York, Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. In Europe we visited England, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Italy, France and Switzerland. To this day these trips are forever etched in my minds. Never mind that my parents took me to Colombia when I was 10 months old. I benefit from the closeness, the sharing, the increased vocabulary my parents shared with me on travels, seeing new sights, sounds, smells, and people, and sometimes the exposure to a different language.

When you're homeschooling traveling takes on a new dimension, and increased benefit. All the benefits previously listed seem to multiply as you have all sorts of directions you can take. Not only can your older child write about what she has seen when she comes back home, but there are many other ways in which your child can participate before and during the trip, depending on his age and level of comprehension:

  • talk about where you're going, what you'll be doing and how you're getting there
  • share children's books on airplanes, trains, car trips and the place you're visiting
  • give your child a disposable camera or two to take pictures of interesting sights she sees and wants to chronicle in her own way
  • have your child write in a journal during the trip-- if he needs help, ask him a few open-ended questions to get him started, e.g. his favorite sight or food of the day, a new skill or new concept he learned, etc.
  • if you're traveling to a different country, study the country, its people and history before you leave. Your experience will be much more meaningful to both of you.
  • if traveling to a place where people speak a different language, have your child study some basic words and phrases in that language. Purchasing a Lonely Planet travel guide and phrase book is helpful whether traveling with children or not!
  • bring something familiar from home, whether it's a favorite book, stuffed animal or small blanket. This is especially important for young children. Talk about how home is different from the place you're at, what you like and don't like about both home and the new place.
  • have older children help plan the itinerary, be in charge of maps and budget their own money for the trip
  • you can also have older children who receive a substantial allowance save all or part of their own money for the trip

There are many more ideas you can incorporate. Make them your own. That is the fun about homeschooling. More than many things, you can make it exactly what you want it to be.

Bon voyage!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Welcome to the Knowledge Center! My name is Carolyn. I'm married and I have a son who just turned three this month. I' ve been researching the option of homeschooling for quite some time now, and although I have decided to homeschool him during the preschool years, I aim to take it one year at a time. From day one my husband has encouraged me. In fact, he first suggested we homeschool!

In January I'm starting my son on Before Five in a Row as he loves books and I'm drawn to the Charlotte Mason style of learning. I simply feel, based on all the facts, that this is the best program for him at this time. Next year or for Kindergarten, if he's still interested in animals as much as he is now, I wish to try out Roots & Shoots' Curriculum for Young Children. Right now I feel that's a little over his head.

I've been researching the option of homeschooling for over a year now, extensively reading on the subject, writing notes, calculating and evaluating. I have a good idea of what's out there and the choices, methods, benefits and who may not be ideally suited to homeschooling. I'm excited about sharing all that I know with you and as I keep learning, you will expand in your knowledge as well. Hence this is the Knowledge Center -- may you learn and grow alongside your children.