One of the advantages of homeschooling is that kids can learn from real life more than they do in a traditional school setting.
How Do You Learn From Real Life?
This sounds great, but how do you actually make that happen? Buying workbooks and textbooks and using those is easy. I was traditionally schooled, so that’s what I’m most familiar with. You are likely in the same boat. Learning from life sounds easy, but can be hard to put into practice.
Over our years of homeschooling, I’ve learned how to include real-world learning in our homeschool. There’s always opportunity for improvement and I’m always looking for new ideas. Drop me a comment and let me know how your kids learn from real life!
Ideas for Real Life Learning
Here are a few things we’ve done to include real life learning in our homeschool.
Download more ideas and suggestions for how to learn from real life in this free guide.
Real Life Geography on a Road Trip
We took big road trip across the country in our second year of homeschooling. I taped a map of the country to the table of the RV and the kids traced our route as we traveled. Whenever we crossed the border into a new state, we made a big deal out of it. Before the trip, I bought little “passports” and state stickers. Whenever we entered a new state, I “stamped” their passports with a sticker for that state. I had also purchased US States workbooks with a page for each state. When we entered a new state, they learned about that state and colored in the coloring page for that state.
Junior Ranger Programs
On that same road trip we discovered the fabulous Junior Ranger Programs at the US National Parks. If you haven’t heard of these yet, here are the details. All of the national parks have Junior Ranger Programs. You request a booklet from the ranger station or download it online and print it. These booklets contain activities for kids of various ages. Some activities can be done in the workbook alone, while others require them to attend a ranger-led program or do another activity in the park.
After your child completes the required number of activities, they turn in the booklet to a park ranger and they get “sworn in” as a junior ranger and earn a little pin-on badge proclaiming them a Junior Park Ranger.
My kids loved this! It was a great way to teach them more about the national parks we visited. It was also fun and engaging. They also thought the swearing in was really cool!
Real Life Pet Care
I often see articles about homeschoolers living off the grid and homesteading. The kids care for farm animals, make cheese from fresh milk, and sew their own clothes. I read these articles and then I feel inadequate. We live in the suburbs and our neighborhood doesn’t even allow chickens!
But, my kids love animals and I’m a sucker. (I love animals too, so maybe that’s why I have no ability to say “no” when they start begging for a new pet.) As a result, we currently have 2 dogs, a cat, and a bearded dragon lizard. In the past we had a pair of rats and a few beta fish. We don’t have farm animals, but the kids have learned so much by caring for these pets.
First, they’ve learned responsibility. They’ve learned that they have to do certain pet care chores every day or their animals will suffer. In the case of our dogs, we’ll suffer too when they start barking to remind us to fill their bowls!
Second, we all learned a lot when we got our bearded dragon. A bearded dragon is not a simple pet to keep. They have certain lighting and temperature requirements. Beardies also need a proper diet of both fresh vegetables and live insects. My daughter did a lot of research to determine how to properly care for her bearded dragon. She loves her beardie and she wanted to make sure he lived his best life. This motivated her to learn all about bearded dragons.
Plan a Real Life Party
This example is more specific to the interests of my kids, but you could use this same concept with whatever our child finds interesting.
My daughter has always loved insects. She finds them fascinating (and I just try not to cringe too visibly when she picks up yet another bug).
A few years ago, she became very interested in Monarch butterflies and their migration each year. We went to the local IMAX theater and watched the film, Flight of the Butterflies (now available on Amazon Prime video). We went to a local butterfly farm and insectarium. She loved talking with the owner!
Then, she wanted to share her love of butterflies with her friends, so we planned a butterfly release party. We were able to buy a couple dozen monarch butterflies from the butterfly farm. We got tags for them from Monarch Watch. At the party, her friends helped put the tiny tags on the wings and then they released the butterflies.
I’ve compiled even more ideas for Real Life Learning For Your Homeschool in this free guide.