Gearing up for a month overseas

Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and Steady Mom

Something exciting is happening in our family tomorrow. We leave on a trip we’ve been planning for years –a month in England.

Why England? Well, my husband Steve is British. All of his family (my children’s grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles) still live there. Before having kids we visited frequently, and we took our firstborn, Jonathan, when he was nine months old to meet the British side of the family.

We’ve always had a dream to travel the world with our children. But then one child turned into two, and two turned into three. The idea of journeys overseas with toddlers and preschoolers in tow didn’t appeal to me, so we decided to wait until everyone grew up a bit to venture across the ocean together.

With my youngest having just turned seven, that time of life (that once seemed as if it would never arrive) is suddenly upon us! As a homeschooling family, we thank our lucky stars that we can nip off in the middle of the “school” year to let our kids encounter some real-life learning.

Here’s what we’ve been doing to prepare and make the most of our learning during the trip ahead. You could of course apply the same principles to anywhere you may be visiting or to just create a unit study about an area of interest.
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Sarah’s Biggest Homeschooling Mistake: Not Traveling More

Written by contributor Sarah Small of SmallWorld at Home

One of the things that really aggravated me when our son was in public school in first grade was being told that we shouldn’t go on trips that would make him miss school.

Really? So being in a classroom is more culturally valuable than going to a Greek festival? So he’ll learn music better if he’s jingling bells than if he is at a symphony? History is more likely to come alive for him within the four walls of school than at Gettysburg?

When we decided to homeschool, I knew that much of my children’s education would consist of hands-on learning that included going lots of places. I imagined us taking the Civil War trail along the East Coast, following Lewis and Clark’s adventures out west, digging up dinosaur bones in Utah, ogling masterpieces at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

I even had it calculated that my husband would be eligible for sabbatical when our oldest was in high school, so we would spend six months somewhere far away (and per my husband’s career, botanically interesting), like Australia or South Africa.

The best laid plans, eh?

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Following Your Child’s Lead: Learning About Edible Wild Foliage

Written by contributor Jessica Fisher of Life as Mom and Good Cheap Eats

It all started with a little red berry. A little red berry and a toddler. I had taken my children to the park to play. My daughter, a toddler at the time, was roaming about the playground, just a few feet away, and then disappeared from my view around a corner.

I was after her immediately, only to find her in a clump of red berry bushes, saying “Eat. Eat.” Not knowing what they were or if she had managed to eat one or not, we grabbed a few twigs off the bush and loaded up in the car.

We stopped at my husband’s work, a mere 1/2 mile away where he went to the landscaping department with a twig to identify. I headed to the nearby City Hall and Library.
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Lessons Learned While Camping

Written by monthly contributor Renee Tougas of FIMBY.

A note from Jamie: This post first published on June 11, 2010. With many of us gearing up to make smores and set up tents at some point over the summer, it seems like a good time to revisit these thoughts from Renee.

Summer is a great time to be outdoors. A time to get away from it all, relax and play as a family.

One way to make the most of summer and to really enjoy nature together is to go camping.

Camping is a fun, affordable and memorable vacation for many families. It also presents excellent education opportunities.

So why not get out there and take advantage of the following things you’ll learn when camping.

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Tourschooling: How to Make Any Trip Educational

The following is a guest post written by Kara Anderson of Quill and Camera.

Last year, my husband and I sat down to look at our finances and were not exactly shocked to see that we wouldn’t be heading to Spain for a family vacation.

But he had some time off available, and we wanted to spend it having a family adventure. It was around that time that his parents invited us to Wisconsin Dells — the land of wax museums, T-shirt shops and waterslides.

That sounded like a terrific get-away. But as homeschoolers, we like our vacations to offer educational opportunities too.

My husband and I often say that if we had the time and resources, we would be tourschoolers – traveling the globe as a family and learning along the way.

And so, we challenged ourselves to tourschool our way through our Wisconsin visit.

Since then, we’ve taken other family trips, and have realized that if you approach your vacation, long weekend or holiday travel with a solid plan, any trip can be both educational and fun.

Here’s how:
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