~~~ BOOK LOOK ~~~
Review & Reflections
Free Range Learning:
How Homeschooling Changes Everything
by Laura Grace Weldon
If you were to only have one homeschooling, unschooling, life learning book on your shelf this would be my top pick. It is absolutely worth owning this volume to revisit again and again for both support and inspiration.
This book encompasses so many of my core beliefs on life learning and how to raise children (and yourself!) in a mindful and wholehearted way that I just had to write a series of reviews covering the chapters in this book and encouraging other folks to try out this lifestyle.
Revisit reviews of previous chapters by clicking on the Category – Homeschooling + Unschooling search tab on the right side of this page or linked HERE.
In Chapter 7 – Adventure Homeschooling, Chapter 8 – Field Tripping, and Chapter 9 – Full Spectrum Learning Laura highlights that homeschoolers have many opportunities to engage and explore individually, with their families & friends, and in a variety of community settings and reminds us that it is ALL connected. The life learning lifestyle provides the opportunity to carve out chunks of time to use as you see fit and to create a rhythm to your days and weeks that suit you and your family. Whether you opt in to “car schooling” and traveling adventures or prefer a “place based” mode seeking curiosities close to home or any combination of these you have plenty of options to keep trying until you find one that fits your family’s needs at every age and stage.
Take a look at the wide variety of options Laura offers with both activities and resources and see my reflections below on our own families lived experience engaging with life learning on the road.
At Home or Away – Life Learning is Everywhere
Our work as life learners is to engage with topics of interest, explore curiosities, express ourselves creatively, and quite simply build a life of purpose and meaning through our daily adventures.
And then there are those rare once-in-a-life-time field trips that puts all of our life learning into practice and true perspective and expands our view beyond all the familiar at home. And so begins the tale of our “big trip”.
The Road Trip to Yellowstone
Ten years later it still ranks right up at the top as a reference point when we speak of family travel and adventures.
Before the Trip – January to Mid-August:
Living in Massachusetts means our first opportunity was to figure out how we were going to get to Yellowstone National Park. Once we decided to make it a family road trip we then needed to have every family member provide their voice to the long list of choices in regards to possible destinations in numerous states all along the way.
There was much anticipation, planning, and family discussions. Months in advance we read countless blips and blurbs about all of the natural wonders to discover at Yellowstone and at destinations in-between. The kiddos were 10 and 12 when the trip was being planned and the eldest would turn 13 while out west. They left a lot of the logistics up to mom and dad and simply participated in the “curiosity conversations” as we discussed over countless dinners where we could go and what we could do and how it might look or sound. And since I had not traveled west of the Mississippi in my 40+ years and my husband had only flown to Colorado in his youth it truly was going to be an adventure and eye opening experience for all of us.
A few weeks in advance of our departure we began laying out clothes, layers and footwear for both warm and cool temps, travel foods and snacks, and showing the kiddos all the work it takes to prepare for an adventure of this size. I checked and rechecked the 21 paper folders that represented each day of the trip with itinerary, maps, and destination information all laid out to eliminate guess work when the miles became long and travel fatigue might make for difficult decision making. It was 2011 and yet I wasn’t going to leave the fate of our big adventure in the hands of technology so I had paper copies that proved beneficial in more ways than one when internet was sketchy and providing a place to journal thoughts and notes to later be transcribed into scrapbooks.
During the Trip Highlights – 3 weeks in August + September:
5, 231 miles and countless audio books and bathroom stops and never once did we hear “are we there yet?” or “I want to go home.”
What was the secret to our success? aka sanity savers? It was all about what we brought along with us and operating from a place of being in this together.
Day trip or lengthy trip here is what to pack:
Clear Communication + Expression of Expectations
Listening + more listening + always listening with an open heart and mind
AND above all else packing P.L.A.Y.-fullness as it will turn most moments into something lighter and easier to manage and you are more likely to feel connection to other folks experiencing the moment with you.
*HINT: notice the list above applies to daily living as every day can be viewed as an adventure!
We had three weeks in which we as a family of four were immersed together in an adventure of a life time 24/7. For some folks that may seem daunting, however our homeschool and life learning lifestyle had already incorporated and exercised many of the necessary muscles for how to function as a cooperative unit daily. We simply practiced using the tools in the list above. Every moment wasn’t perfect, it was simply perfectly as it was meant to be – an opportunity to learn and grow in a new environment using all our same tried and true tools.
Needless to say there were countless other “lessons learned” for all of us as we were surrounded by historical sites, natural wonders, mathematical curiosities, art & cultural immersion, and making connections from what we had read in advance to actually what we experienced onsite.
After the Trip September + beyond:
The wonderful ripple and long lasting effects of our adventure was seen when we returned and had the opportunity to share our stories with friends and family, using the few weeks after we returned to absorb all we had experienced and process it through both kiddos creating pages in their photo journal scrapbooks, and reflecting on our experience for weeks & months & years to come ” with remember when” stories.
And now 10 years later my husband and son had the good fortune to return to Yellowstone this year. They opted to fly and skip the lengthy drive so as to have more time onsite hiking trails and exploring wonders they missed the first time or decided to revisit. Their photos and stories of hours spent in nature simply bring a smile to my face. Ah-ha you can go back again and build upon the adventures which is simply another version of full spectrum life learning!
Whether it is a once-in-a-lifetime trip or routine outings or errands, they are all ripe with learning opportunities especially when you provide the space and grace so that things may unfold naturally in their own time and own way.
Happy Trails & Travels
Enjoy the P.L.A.Y. journey!
Chapter 10 in this series can be found HERE.
As always, compliment this reading with the authors and resources listed below.
Support your local library and request these books!
~ Recommended Resources ~
Listing authors and specific resources for these chapters would be a challenge as it is specific to your circumstances. Instead here is a sample list of the many outings that filled our days living here in Massachusetts with curiosity and wonder and discovering so many opportunities to make connections. Check out the many available P.L.A.Y. destinations in your local area.
Local Science & Art & History Museums- Look at the available passes at your library or the ASTC pass across the USA.
Planetariums – Local colleges may have special viewing sessions.
Local “living” museums -ex. Sturbridge Village & Hancock Shaker Village & Plymouth Plantation -MA
Reservoirs – ex. Quabbin Reservoir and the story behind the creation of
Audubon Sanctuaries & State Forests
Town/City businesses ex. Waste Management facilities
Local Colleges offering free science lab or computer lab or a wide range of onsite activities.
Local business ex. See how a soap maker creates bars of soap thru bike power(!) and brings a product to market.
Field Trip into another family’s kitchen for bread making, canning, etc. learning a new skill.
Weekly field trip to local CSA for picking, caring for the land, and workshops, and connections.
Weekly grocery trip is always ripe with life lessons if you approach it as an adventure and set everyone up for success so that they are not too tired or hungry when you arrive.
The list of destinations is truly, wonderfully, P.L.A.Y.-fully endless!
Purchase Here – P.L.A.Y. Nature Alliteration Adventure Guide Books
and join the play-filled journey today!