When I was a child, life was a living classroom. Sure, I went to school to learn the basic curriculum, but my own personal educational enrichment wasn’t limited to just what I was taught at a wooden desk in the classroom at school.
Some of the most enduring education I received came from my own "hands on" knowledge through exploration in somewhat unlikely places, like the stream behind my house where I caught tadpoles in the spring, or at the dairy farm down the lane where I picked the eggs we had for breakfast. For family vacations, we visited the Civil War battlefields to learn about the history of this country. I was General Meade, my brother was General Lee, and our mock battles took place on the fields of Gettysburg. I didn’t just read about the world, I discovered it through investigation and adventure.
Many parents nowadays shield their children from bruised knees, broken arms and poison ivy. When I was growing up, these kinds of things were considered badges of glory instead of scars, badges we earned in the real world, while on one of our many expeditions. Some think it’s safer to learn about life through the internet, or for children to play on Wii instead of being outside, climbing trees. Yes, it is our job as parents to protect our children, but it’s also our job to teach them. Most of their learning does not come from the classroom. It comes from us. Yes, it’s easier to have children study with computers and workbooks, but it’s so much more beneficial if the world to them is tactile. And if you really think about it, all of us retain knowledge much better when we experience things, rather than just reading about them in books or on the internet.
The "Out and About Classroom" series is a guide to help parents turn the world into a living classroom for children. It addresses the core curriculum taught in schools, offering suggestions as to how to use real life experiences in order to enhance learning. The concept behind this Series is to let children encounter the world, instead of merely studying about it from books or while seated at their desk at school.
This Out and About Classroom Series begins with the lessons taught in school and offers suggestions as to where to take your children to expand their knowledge base from there, so that they can understand what they have learned in a more tangible way. This concept enables the words on the pages of their textbooks to come alive. Creating a living classroom reinforces learning and helps minds and imaginations expand far beyond the perimeters of the classroom. It is also a wonderful bonding experience since we, the parents, are their ultimate teachers and tutors.
Think back to when you were a child and how you explored the world. Did you lie in the grass and use your imagination to see faces in the formations of the clouds? Or did you pick a blade of grass and turn it into a musical instrument? Put away the books for a few hours. Take time off from your playdate and get some one-on-one time with your child. Share one of your most memorable learning experiences, something that makes you smile when you think back on your childhood. I guarantee it will make your child smile too.