Is Learning Limited to Books?

[The following article was written by Intern Jenny.]

Throughout the years that my family homeschooled, one of the most important principles we had was that homeschooling is not just bookwork. Mom loves to say, “Everyday is a learning day and the world is your classroom.” That is a good saying, but I want to explain what that saying meant to me.

As a former public school student, I resisted anything to do with public school. It frustrated me to tears to have any resemblance to public school in my homeschooling experience. I did not enjoy any curriculum that was just a book packed with facts to be memorized and regurgitated without any personal touches. I did do well with curriculum that was more relaxed, even if thousands of facts were hidden within its pages. However, some of the experiences that I learned the most from were not from the books that I read or the workbooks I filled out.

Mom made learning easy by allowing my brother and me to explore our interests. When a sunny day came along we learned how the sun and a magnifying glass can produce heat capable of starting a fall leaf on fire (carefully, on a fireproof brick patio, with Mom’s supervision, mind you).

Instead of having art class, we often copied our favorite book illustrations onto the front sidewalk with chalk. Dr. Seuss’ “Zizzer Zazzer Zuzz” was a hit with the neighbors, and the long circus trains we made from our imaginations were always memorable.

Our antique button collection became not only a lesson in history, but also in many other subjects. It was science as we discovered what material each button was made from. It was art history as we learned about and identified the art periods represented on the buttons. It was literature class as we learned about the operas and stories that inspired some of the buttons. Our collection (as many types of collections can be) was more than just a silly hobby, but an exploration of subjects and learning that we had never realized before.

Literature became so much more than just reading as Mom read aloud to my brother and me as we worked on our math everyday. We discussed the storylines together daily as we anticipated the next twist.

Most of all, daily activities with Mom and Dad helped my brother and me to develop a healthy grasp of life. We learned practical economics by shopping with Mom, we learned how to paint and fix things around the house and yard with Dad. I learned to cook by helping Mom fix supper every night. Laundry was a household-team chore: whoever needed something cleaned or noticed that the laundry was piling up was expected to take up that responsibility.

Although the schoolwork we did taught us much, I believe my brother and I benefited most through the many other activities from which we were able to gain experiences. Books are definitely a worthwhile tool to use, but do not forget to learn from life as well. Recognize the skills and facts that can be accumulated by simply analyzing day-to-day activities. Sometimes a break from books can actually be more beneficial than detrimental.

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