Last week my mom came to visit.
When she arrived I was cleaning up from a class I had just taught to our homeschooling coop.
As we tidied up, she asked about our lesson.
“What were you teaching?”
I have a background in environmental education, so we could have easily been digging in to some serious topics.
Endangered species management, ecology, or plant taxonomy perhaps.
Or maybe something basic yet academic.
But instead I was teaching letterboxing.
Letterboxing is a treasure hunt.
Using clues and a compass, you find your way to a well hidden box, often in a natural area.
The box contains a notebook and a rubber stamp.
Using the stamp and notebook you brought along, you exchange stamp prints and re-hide the box.
We love letterboxing and do it often.
It is not, however, what you would call “school-y”.
My mom was unimpressed.
“Yes. But what are they learning?” she asked.
Like much of our homeschooling, there was a wide breadth of learning happening at once.
They were reading and writing, sequencing and problem solving. Developing fine motor, gross motor, social skills, and more.
But to be honest, I hadn’t given that much thought.
Academic goals (in this case) were secondary to how awesome it would be to find, create, and hide letterboxes with our friends.
And while sometimes learning objectives are at the center of my mind, often they are not.
Because I believe that learning happens all of the time, I rarely keep score.
I am – of course – aware of the strengths and struggles of each of my children.
But we don’t have a fixed time-frame for pushing through those struggles.
We’re taking it easy. Each at their own pace.
Isn’t that half of the beauty of homeschooling?
To allow each child to set their ideal pace.
Our days are rich with freedom. We are learning constantly, whatever each moment brings.
And we trust that given the right environment, each child will learn what they need to know in order to thrive.
That trust prevents me from hurrying them into a lesson they aren’t ready – or hungry – for.
In truth, I don’t take credit for their learning.
Their learning is organic. And it is all their own.
They teach themselves through their insatiable curiosity.
I’m just their liaison with the world.
So what are they learning?
Whatever they are ready for.
If they have asked the question, then they are soaking in the knowledge.
That goes for reading, math, science – and yes, even letterboxing.
Because it doesn’t need to look like school to be rich with opportunity.
What about your family? What unusual activities are favorite learning opportunities for your children?