Finding education in vacation or Learning, Learning, Everywhere
In July, Sandra Dodd hosted Learn Nothing Day. Our family, after a bit of discussion, decided not to take part, not because we didn’t feel that we unschoolers didn’t need a break, but the kids decided that there was no way they could learn nothing all day. They figured out that even if they were lying in bed all day or staring at the wall their minds would be full of ideas and figuring things out and that spending a day learning nothing would mean being in a coma or something equally undesirable.
And so, as you can imagine, even our vacation was full of learning. I had originally intended to do a slew of posts on the subject with pictures but life got in the way so instead I will share the condensed version.
I have already mentioned how we stayed with friends ( a former missionary to Ecuador and private school principle, my dear friend–his daughter, and her 2 year old who is bilingual.) Lots of learning went on there on which I already touched briefly. After spending a few days with them we headed to the beach to stay with my dad, stepmom, and baby brother for 3 days. In that time the kids and I…
discussed how waves work, why the ocean is blue/green, how the tides work and why, how undertow works, how storms affect the ocean, how erosion works, and what lives at the bottom of the sea.
We saw dolphins and pelicans, as well as numerous other small birds that follow when the fish run (silverfish –I believe) were running and many animals were feeding just off the coast. We also got to watch a fisherman catch a sand shark, a stingray (and get stung), and another kind of shark that I can’t remember. We got to see the animals up close and had the opportunity to pet them (um, no thank you?)
(Above is a dolphin swimming in the sunrise, they were hard to catch but we saw enough that I got a few photos.) We also got to experience many sand creatures and learn about biting flies that come in due to a storm at sea (ouch.)
We learned what sand is made of and how rocks are formed. We scavenged the beach after high tides to sea what the waves had grabbed the day before. We found a pair of flip flops, 2 boogie boards, several shovels and rakes, and a few shells plus a jelly fish.
We road the bus and road bikes on the board walk which led to a much needed reminder about bike safety and the rules of the road.
We discussed how magnifying glasses work, watched fishing boats go by , learned the difference between an island and a penninsula.
The kids made friends with another family and got braver about going out in the waves. Issac hung out with the girls older brother and dug huge holes in the sand.
All three kids spent the moments before high tide digging deep holes and trying to find ways to keep the incoming tide from washing them out. They learned about different sorts of barricades, erosion, and how quickly the ocean can fill in a hole.
We also visited a shipwreck museum and saw items from the Titanic, the Edmund Fitgerald, and other ships, learned how sea divers recover items from shipwrecks and clean them, learned about and bought some hermit crabs (their first ever pets due to hubby’s animal allergies). We walked miles and miles, saw a lighthouse, visited our friends again and learned about cryptography, did a scavenger hunt, took a new way home, learned about how to save gas while driving, visited our friends at As We Walk, and saw all that God was doing around us–there was a ton of character developing going on that I am not even getting into.
We are still processing all we learned several months later. Discussions are still going on about various ideas and concepts that were gleaned from our trip. The kids now want to go back and visit both our friends in DC and Deb’s family–they have plans for DC now that they have been to the area and are figuring out what they want to see (I think a few museums at the Smithonian are the plan for this next trip). This has led to discussions of all that is available there and planning and organizing on their part (I try to stay out of it except to limit the cost and number of places). And I, like my three crazies, cannot imagine a day without learning.
Imagine that – learning while you are having fun! You read about kids that have never seen a real cow, let alone a real farm (or the ocean)…they read about those things, they study those things, they see films on those things – but they never actually experience them.
When you are experiencing your learning you save time and I think you remember it more b/c you were right there…you saw it, touched it, heard it.
Kids miss out on so much when they are in a classroom all day…
Well, you MUST come visit again!
Last year for vacation I brought crafts and games and plenty of ideas for “learning.” This year we just showed up. I asked Brooke which she liked more, and she said this year! I was really surprised. We learned just as much and I didn’t have to lead it at all, just respond. Like a kiss from a loved one. All you need to do is respond.
I really needed to read this today. We had a tough time getting school done and I was feeling guilty because the biggest reason was that we just plain didn’t WANT to do it. After reading this I realize two things. #1 – forcing lessons is pointless and makes everyone miserable, and is NOT conducive to learning. #2 – We learned plenty that has nothing to do with book learning but will likely benefit us all more in the future.
Thanks for the eye-opener!
Sounds like the perfect vacation – your kids are right – one couldn’t stop learning if one wanted too (too bad so many want to).
We go to the beach all the time, and we talk about lots of those things, but I never considered it as learning. Who knew?! That’s a fabulous way to look at things!
love these photos.
especially the first one.
Also loved the photos, especially the first one. I enjoyed all the things you shared about your learning – this sounds like an amazing, wonderful trip!
Awesome post, Heather! I’m always amazed when people act like learning can’t happen outside school walls. We learn so much more by going and seeing and touching and experiencing the world with our whole bodies!
Looks like y’all had a blast. I agree, there’s no way we can NOT learn. A day without learning in this household just isn’t possible. In order NOT to learn, we’d have to sleep all day, and who wants to do that?