One of the freedoms I cherished most about homeschooling was that my kids could discover the adventure of learning rather than the boredom of school. To actually break through the bonds of boredom and into that learning adventure, however, may require some out-of-the-box thinking and a willingness to try something new.
So, if you are ready, I’d like to start with a bit of a poetic meander through the obstacles of learning outdoors in autumn.
Do you remember sitting, sitting, sitting in a classroom while, outside, the wind and the multi-colored leaves were swirling and dancing? Do you recall smelling tired air from the school’s furnace, while, outside, the brisk tang of autumn air invited you to run and jump with the sheer joy of being alive? Do you remember the exuberance of the last bell of the day, when you were now free to revel in the scampering wind and blowing leaves and reviving briskness as you walked home? Can you picture it vividly? For me, the memory is startlingly clear. Now, in the contrast between the outdoors and the classroom, does one of them remind you at all of, dare I mention it, a prison?
Now, on to today. Here you are, perhaps still enthused at the beginning of the school year, with all your hopes of getting through all the books, accomplishing all the goals and finishing all the projects. You might even have worked mightily to get your lesson plans, schedule and orderly row of books and notebooks all sitting neatly, ready for implementation. You are determined to tidy the deck, muster the troops, haul out the sail and do battle—to conquer Mount Academia! I absolutely relate! I started nearly every year with that same anticipation, that same optimism, that same goal. Would you mind if, as a result of my own experience, I ask you whether your children happen to have the same goals? The reason I ask is that mine seldom did. As children, my kids resembled me when I was a desk-bound student, restless, bored and longing for a breath of fresh air.
What if your kids could learn something, anything, outside. How would that impact motivation and interest? If they could read, sing, paint, skip, collect, run, examine, imagine, compose, recite under blue skies amid falling leaves, would that count, academically speaking? If the afternoon is pleasant and the yard is inviting, would it be possible to enliven study by taking the math or phonics book outside? If an afternoon spent foraging for acorns—whether for a science experiment or an art project—brought a sparkle to their eyes and laughter to their hearts, would it be worth the hassle, the interruption to our well-laid plans? The reason I am asking is because both you and I know that it would be worth its weight in gold. So why don’t we feel the freedom to do it?
Hang on to your hats, friends. I think the reason we don’t feel the freedom to do it is because it isn’t in the curriculum. It isn’t in the textbook. It isn’t in the scope and sequence. But if it’s in your heart and in the hearts of your children, then maybe all you need is permission. So, here it is:
I hereby grant you permission to go outside this autumn with your kids and learn to your heart’s content!