At HSB, the topic of conversation this week is “educational vacations.” I suspect that’s a bit of a misnomer; unless we turn our brains off, we’re always learning. We never really finish our education. This conviction is so significant to our family that we have named our homeschool “Learners 4 Life Academy” (with a play on the word “Life,” which also refers to our source of life, Christ.)
Yet I think when it comes to formal teaching and direct instruction, most of us take “breaks” at various points in our lives. And summer is a great time to do that!
Our family rarely schedules traditional academic “schooling” during the summer, but we certainly do strive to take advantage of learning opportunities. When we’re blessed to travel somewhere outside of our region, we often visit museums and art galleries – just for the sheer pleasure of it (knowing full well we’re all going to learn something about whatever captures our interests). We also take advantage of local festivals and town fairs; they always provide fun fodder for brains and bodies.
(These pictures are from a recent trip to a shoe museum. Who knew shoes could be so interesting?!?!?)
In addition, we use the looser schedule of July and August to plan out-of-the-ordinary learning opportunities. This summer, for example, three of our children will participate in a VBS program (vacation bible school) with a “Survivor” theme. DD9 will also be attending a dance camp because she loves music and movement, and DS12 will hopefully be attending a robotics camp because it’s one of his interests. He has also recently discovered the wonderful peace that presides at our local library, so he will likely be riding his bike there quite frequently this summer just to sit and read (without his library card, so he is not tempted to do any unauthorized surfing on the internet). In addition to our missions trip to El Salvador, DD13 will be working with children in the neighbourhood because she wants to have a career helping people, and I suspect DS4 will be spending a lot of time online with me following links in our Usborne Beginners series because he has a growing passion for learning about animals. We all love to learn when we’re interested in something, don’t we? Education can be such a delight that we don’t wish to take a vacation from it! J
Because learning outside of the usual way can be so much fun, we are always on the look-out for new opportunities. Just yesterday, DD9 noticed an advertisement at a local grocery store for some cooking classes with a wide variety of themes – offered right in the store. She wants to sign up! I can tell you that I would never have thought to look at the grocery story for a summer learning activity – but there it is!
The break from academics also affords time for entrepreneurial development, which is an important part of educating for life. Even simple things like lemonade stands and yard sales provide fun learning opportunities – about business as well as charity (not demanding payment for every glass of lemonade, donating leftover yard sale items to thrift stores, etc.).
The “free time” can force us all to be creative in coming up with ways to spend our time productively. And of course, it affords us the time to dream about the future . . . to reflect on where we’ve been -- and where we need to go.
What kind of educational vacations do you take? Do you have any creative ways to inspire continued learning throughout the lazier, hazier days of summer?