Posts Tagged With: learning experiences

Practice Mini-Trip.

We just spent a night in Halifax, all of a three and a half hour drive away from us. We have done this many many times before, but this time, my focus was very different. I viewed this as a little practice for the big thing – a very tiny glimpse into what could be…Now, I know you can’t compare a 3 or 4 hour road trip with driving to Mexico (for example), but you can learn from it. And we did. On the way home, we asked the kids what they had learned from the experience, and they said “Be Prepared”. That about sums it up, and it’s really good advice. But here are a few more things we learned as the parents and planners of the upcoming trips:

  1. Having the right clothing, footwear, and “accessories” can make or break your day. We stopped in Truro at Victoria Park, a great park for hiking complete with waterfalls and streams (to play in, as it turned out). So, when we arrived, we got the kids to change from flip flops to sneakers for our little hike in the woods (sensible.), but then when they insisted on getting wet, turns out flip flops may have been more appropriate. So, now we know we need some all terrain sandals that will go in water and still be ok for hiking. Check. Also, naturally, one child “needed” to swim in the waterfall, but wouldn’t take off her pants out of modesty, so then we had the issue of wringing wet pants for the walk back to the van (I had brought towels, but they were in the trunk). So, we need a backpack of fresh clothing and a towel next time. Check. It was hot. Unexpectedly hot. Only one of us had a hat, and only one of us put on sunscreen prior to leaving the house. I brought sunscreen, but it was in the suitcase, buried under other toiletries, teddy bears and clothes. So, always have sunscreen readily available no matter what the weather when you set out. Check. And hats. We had to go back to the van a little earlier than we wanted to due to hot heads and the fear of uncomfortable scalp sunburn.
  2. Having some kind of system of organization in the vehicle can make things a lot more pleasant for everyone. After only a couple of hours in the van,  the back looked like a bomb site. Books and notepads all over the floor. Bags everywhere, random shoes in the aisle, and snack-garbage strewn around the seats. Then nobody can find what they are looking for, or someone is constantly having to pass something to someone else, and there may even be fighting in the back. So, I have asked the kids to start thinking about how to organize the chaos, because if it’s like that after two hours, I dread to think what it will be like after twelve. I need to think about this too. There must be some good ideas on this out there, so I will look. Check.
  3. Everyone needs to be assigned an individual job when we stay in hotel rooms (or anywhere, really). Five people sharing a room is ok for a night, even if it is crowded and chaotic. But what about longer stays? In order for those to work, I think we need assigned jobs, and kind of an “order of operations”. What do we do immediately upon arrival? Unpack. Put stuff away. Basically, create space. What needs to be checked during the final sweep of the hotel room before leaving? Someone could do drawers, another person bathroom and shower, another can do plug outlets for chargers etc. And because Darragh’s pj top no longer lives with us, we now know someone also needs to check under the bedding! This could save us a lot of time, and a lot of repetition. It’s efficient, and I like efficiency. It will also teach responsibility and save us money on items we would have had to re-buy if we left them in the hotel room! Check.
  4. We need to determine what makes an educational experience into a home-schooling experience. We went to the Museum of Natural History, and of course, the girls loved it, and I’m sure they learned a lot. From how big a hummingbird’s egg is, and what fox poop looks like, to how igneous rock forms. So, as we sat there watching them count the mammals in one big display case, we looked at each other and said, “so, is this it, or do we have to do something?”. Yes, folks, that was our lesson plan. This was a great lesson for us, because clearly, that is not enough. What do we do prior to the visit to set it up? How does the focus need to differ for the three ages of our kids? Do we let them choose their own learning focus? What should they be doing while in the museum? After the visit? We need to do a little more thinking around these issues! Check.
  5. Hotel rooms for five people are ok, even without a cot. Turns out, Liah likes the floor. Awesome! And just while we are on the subject of hotels, the ones with the complimentary breakfast are definitely the way to go. Such a saving for us. And a pool. Because a pool makes everything ok.
  6. The 4G ipad rocks. Yes, this is the final thing we learned on our trip. When we said, “I’m not sure if we are going the right way – I think we may have missed the exit”, the ipad and its little flashing blue dot told us we were fine. When we were trying to decide where to eat supper, we spun the wheel-of-fortune-like spinner on the Urbanspoon app and it gave us plenty of suggestions to match our taste and budget. And it takes fabulous pictures. And it turns out, there is an app that can organize my life. I got it, but I can’t figure out how to use it. 
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The World is a Book…

Strangely, I only just came across this quote from St Augustine over the weekend. I find it comforting. As I continue to wonder about where to travel and how to educate the kids while we do, this quote makes me relax a little bit. If the world is a book, and we are giving ourselves and our children the opportunity to explore it, this is literacy with a capital L. Global literacy. Real life literacy.

In Finland, kids only go to school for three hours a day. And I’ve read research that suggests our students are actively engaged in learning for less than that in the run of a typical six hour school day. So, my plan is an hour of numeracy each day (which will have to be scheduled and enforced because it is unlikely to happen naturally), and an hour of literacy (which will likely become several hours a day because it does come naturally!). The rest is just gravy. Thick, rich, and delicious gravy.

Looking back at previous posts, I question how and if we will be capable of educating our children while on the road. Of course we will! We’ll just be reading this giant book called “The World”.

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Global Curriculum??

 

 

I’m starting to obsess just a little bit over what we will be teaching our kids, and whether they will be able to seamlessly transfer into the next grade when we return. At first, I thought, “the world will be our curriculum…” in a kind of hippie-trance like state that comes from things not being imminent. But now, it’s imminent, and all of a sudden, I’m thinking about times tables and science concepts and literacy and project based learning and live binders etc etc, and it’s a bit of a puddle in my head. Of course, my hippie dictum is not that far wrong, and in moments of lesser panic, I can see that. The problem is, I don’t want to mess up. I don’t want to be standing in front of the best educational stimulus there ever was, and not notice it. Or at least, not know what to do with it. I could trip over a math PBL and I wouldn’t recognize it. I can imagine the wonderful writing experiences and real life publishing possibilities when they can blog to the world, but it’s the other stuff that sort of throws me. I don’t want Mairi to be sitting in a grade 9 classroom next September listening to the phrase “Remember when we did this in grade 8…” and stressing over the fact that she didn’t actually do it.

My dream for my girls is that they come back not just well educated and more globally aware, but more confident and self-assured. More ready for the trials of adolescence. More digital – real 21st century learners. More empathetic. More worldly. More everything.

I have had very high expectations for this year off, and I am just beginning to realize the pressure that these expectations are putting on me. I guess I really thought it would all just “happen”. And maybe it will. But in case it doesn’t, I’m feeling a lot of pressure to make it happen.

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Not another castle, Mom!

I’m wondering how to get the kids interested? I asked them where they’d like to go in our year off, and they said, “Harry Potter World” and to see their cousins. I showed them pictures of what I considered to be awe-inspiring places and asked them if they’d like to see them, and their response was “not really”. What should I be doing to insight interest and curiosity? I want them to choose their own learning experiences, but that will be difficult if their only passion is Harry Potter!!

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