Living is Organic Homeschooling At It’s Finest!

Life sometimes seems like a chess game, no?  A game of both luck, maybe some skill and a whole lot of guesswork that sometimes works out and sometimes does not come close.  In life, you adapt, you keep pressing on, enjoying life each and every day.

Learning what fish inhabit what rivers and what to use for bait.
Learning what fish inhabit what rivers and what to use for bait.

That is how this fulltime travel gig of ours came to fruition … we were splintering as a family, it was time to adapt.  We actually were not enjoying each and every day.  Instead we were running around the state for hockey games, football games, soccer games, middle school and high school sports and we were getting tired!  So tired.

Dally playing football, 2nd grade!
Kenny playing football, 3rd grade! Dan was the coach!

Our enthusiasm for life was waning, it seemed like every day we woke up and felt like we schlepped through our days.  Wake up, eat, go to school/work, pick up the kids and then race around like chickens with our heads cut off all afternoon and evening so that none of us were ever all together at dinner.

This bothered Dan, he was adamant that we eat together and so we either ate dinner around 3:30 or around 8:30/9.  Which, you can imagine, wasn’t ideal.

Then, in 2008 in a totally unexpected move, we started homeschooling.  Literally, in the middle of August, 1 week before school was slated to begin, at Dan’s urging, I started researching curriculum.

By Labor Day I had all their books and workbooks and we began learning at home, in the Great Room, over breakfast, over conversation, amidst the little kids playing legos or baby dolls.  It was awesome.  I felt like I was meant to homeschool.

Life changed drastically, we were happier, we had more time together and more time to play.

New Year's Day Annual Shoshone Run.
New Year’s Day Annual Shoshone Run.

We woke up leisurely, ate breakfast together, smiled our way through a couple hours of school and then blasted outta the house for adventure every afternoon.

Then two/three weeks in, I knew I’d made a huge mistake.  Homeschooling sucked.  The work was mundane even to me.  Conjugating sentences, Grammar, Literature, Math, Science, History … none of it written interestingly, nothing compelled anyone to want to learn more.  We spiralled downward quickly.  I can be quoted as saying, “I don’t care if you don’t want to … you HAVE to.” more times than I care to admit.

About 3 months in, little Emmy was born and we ditched the books and workbooks and lessons, book reports and tests and lavished in our new baby.

Being the best big brother he can be ...
Being the best big brother he can be …

During this time, the kids learned to cook, to change diapers, to soothe, to sing lullabye’s, to totally put someone else ahead of themselves.  It was awesome!!!

The cool thing about homeschooling is that you are on your own time.  You don’t have to take off 3 months in the summer, you don’t have to take off 3 weeks at Christmas.  You just have to ensure 180 days of school, how you do that, it’s up to you.

And so, after about 4 months we tried another curriculum, this one online.   Same thing.  We all loved it, until we didn’t.  So, we went back to books, with yet another curriculum and this one, Horizons (AOP) I still use the math and phonics books for the littles through 4th grade, I also use All About Reading for early readers and we switch to Saxon Math in 5th grade and focus mainly on reading and writing for subjects…

The rest comes organically from life. It’s amazing how much learning takes place when you just stop forcing it down your throats and just simply live.

Hit the beach, there’s the tides, marine life, biology, animal habitat, astrology, and the tides. Did I mention the tides?   Funny, because I think the moon is the most complicated thing ever.  I wrap my head around it one minute, only to have it complete leave me the next.  Good thing we spend a lot of time at the ocean so the kids can explain it all to me often!!

Dolphins in the sunrise!
Dolphins in the sunrise!

Heading to the mountains?  Learn about reptiles, amphibians and their habitat.  You can bird watch, which we don’t do because I have a weird unnatural fear of birds, learn about butterflies, and wildflowers.  Geology and biology are alive here as well.  Our kids favorite mountain educational experience is hands down, survival.  They love to make weapons and build fires and traps.  They study edible plants and berries and build makeshift shelters.  One of their favorite games is Man Tracker.

Total backcountry campint ... good for the soul!
Total backcountry campint … good for the soul!

Not a traveling family?  No problem.  Education comes in all forms.  Hit the grocery store with your kids for lessons in health, math, and patience.  The gas station for math and budgeting.  Cook with them and they practice reading, following directions and measuring.  The local park is a great place to talk about the environment and the impact we have on animal habitats.  Step outside at night for a captivating view of the night sky.

The point, people, is that you can’t do anything without learning something and you keep adapting to make your life fit your situations.  Or maybe it’s the other way around, I don’t know.  I think maybe that’s what we try to do, make our situations fit our lives, and so we butt heads with circumstances, often. Ha Ha … that my friends is truth, and education.

Personally, I love learning right beside my kids. I love that sometimes I am the student, and our kids are my teachers.  They have an incredible outlook on life.  Maybe it’s only because they are young.  Maybe it’s only because they haven’t had the experiences that make them bitter and resentful.  Maybe.  But I think it’s more likely that we just simply, inherently, organically are showing them that there really is more to life than things.

IMG_9756 (Small)

The past few days I’ve seemed to have lost my way.  I have been struggling with the inevitable loss of a thing I love … our Newmar Dutch Star.  My head and my husband are telling me, WTH is wrong with you crazy woman – LOL, time’s up Susie, time to move on.  We make stuff happen, we’ll make more stuff happen … we have an RV, it gets better gas mileage, we’ll save money, you knew this was coming … 

I’m thinking, it’s so pretty, it’s just like a house, it’s my home, it makes this life feel luxurious and exciting, so many memories in this Coach, I lost a baby in this RV …

Then Kady, my loving 16 year old daughter, comes to me with the following verse and stops me in my tracks:

“as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal.” 1 Corinthians 4:18

Oh when the young become the teachers!!  That is a golden moment.  Something you will never forget, something that makes your heart swell with pride!

I never like to see a good thing come to an end.  I’m the schmuck who gets teary after spending a few weeks in one location and the day of departure comes.  I’m the softy who cries upon leaving a friends home, the beach, a hotel room…yeah, a hotel room.  I even cry during some … commercials.  Really!  

Kady, made my heart swell and I (of course) got teary eyed.  Yes, Kady, thank you, my daughter my teacher, my inspiration, my legacy …

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