What do snakes, butterflies, bats, electricity, moms and kids have in common? Well, in this second post of the SACHS Blogs Carnival they all contribute towards making a wonderful learning experience fun as families head out and about to enjoy learning from the world around them.
While there are some misguided beliefs that homeschoolers stay home all day, the truth is that we enjoy outings just as much as anyone. And there are so many opportunities to enjoy outings to fantastic places in South Africa. In Cape Town alone, where I am privileged to live, there is no shortage of beautiful places to explore, free of cost. From the wild ocean and beaches to the mountainous ranges about us and everything in-between – well, if we were to enjoy them all, we’d have to visit a new place every day.
Of course, these outings happen quite naturally in most families – whether you home school or public school, those family weekends spent exploring a nearby museum or visiting a snake park or simply discovering and rediscovering the wonderful world of rock pools are common to us all. It’s all about life learning – making use of great learning opportunities wherever we find them.
So what is special about home school outings?
- I think that Nadene of Practical Pages outlines some of the most basic reasons beautifully in her post "School Outings – What I Miss Most". Nadene now lives too far away from town and other families to join in on regular home school group outings. But, having been a part of them for years, she knows what she is missing! And a lot of it is the wonderful relationships forged with other home schooling families.
- Not all outings have an educational focus. Some are simply for having fun and meeting with people. Occasionally bigger groups will get together to enjoy a park day or something similar where kids play, moms chat and exchange ideas – creating new and stronger relationships.
- Home schooling outings that consist of various families getting together to share an educational experience is a blessing indeed. Usually, one family or support group (co-op) will organise an outing around a subject they’ve been learning about. They invite other families and before you know it a wonderful opportunity to learn, socialise and enjoy each other emerges.
- It’s also a great way to share our skills, knowledge of places to visit and connections. Many years ago, we teamed up with our good friends and headed out to the Post’s farm – homeschoolers too, they had generously opened their farm to us so we could learn all about their bees and honey making business.
- Of course, combining the fun of friends with the fun of learning is what makes the joy of community that much richer. Nikki of Our Journey In Him and her kids joined their Nature club for an awesome day filled with snakes, chameleons, piglets, peacocks, cupcakes and face painting at the Imhoff Farm in Cape Town. If that’s not fun learning with friends, I don’t know what is!
- Group outings with other home schooling families offers learning opportunities outside of our curriculum or chosen subject of study. While one family may organise an outing around their own subject of interest and learning, they often open up the experience to other home schoolers who are not necessarily studying the same thing as them. I experienced this recently when I headed out to Koeberg with a bunch of other Homeschool Western Cape members thanks to Lulu’s great organisational skills. We had touched on electricity earlier in the year and last year, so this outing was a fun injection of new information in the midst of our studies. I would never have thought of heading to Koeberg, but when the opportunity presented itself, we took it and learnt so much!
- Learning together with other families really enriches the experience. It’s wonderful when not only the children learn something new but their mothers and fathers get to learn about it too, alongside the children. Imagine the sorts of conversations numbers of whole families can enjoy together after visiting a museum or some other exciting place? Lindy of The Greaves Family – Homeschooling in South Africa enjoyed such an outing with her home school group. They visited a little settler village in Bathurst and spent hours stepping back in time as they explored an integral part of our South African history.
- Of course, the traditional reason for outings is simply learning in a concrete way – seeing, touching, hearing and experiencing. Nikki headed with her co-op group to the Cape Point Ostrich farm this week. She shares the excitement and new facts learned on her blog Our Journey in Him.
- Sometimes our best official home school outings are the ones we enjoy with just our own little family. Being intentional and planning outings into the home schooling week affords the family with some wonderful opportunities of shared learning.
- Outings as a family allows us to really explore similar themes together – and it helps parents better understand what is going on in their kids’ heads when they come home filled to the brim with excitement. Tanja of So… Homeschooled shares about how their family’s outing to the Army Museum prompted some big questions for her as a mom facing the "should kids play with pretend guns?" question.
- Of course, there is much to be said for the memories family outings create! Sometimes the most precious moments are not the educational ones but those that leave an indelible imprint on our hearts and in the collage of our memories together. Wendy (of Loving Learning) and her family experienced this at Butterfly World recently with a monkey leaping on Dad’s back and promptly peeing on him too! While they may not remember the genus and species of said monkey, they’ll always remember Dad’s face and the laughter that no doubt ensued! And Niki’s kids deserve medals for their hiking achievements! Their family trekked up the Tygerberg Hill in the nature reserve and lived to tell the tale! Repeated excursions like that, especially ones that include other fun family outings like a visit to the Planetarium, make for great family memories. Karen’s Clan had what her son called "the most funner days ever!" recently when they went to experience the Noon Day Gun blasting off the 12th hour. Karen agrees – it was certainly one of the best family-educational outings they’ve had.
- For many moms, home schooling really brings our faults to the fore. Knowing that we are almost solely responsible for our family’s learning in all spheres of life can be hugely scary. But, at the same time, it’s also very inspirational because, not only do we have to really think deeply about the decisions we make for our kids and how we are around them, we also benefit from those amazing moments of family bonding that happen during our schooling moments, often when we least expect it. In this post, Linnie of Back to Ancient Ways shares about their outing to the Tygerberg Zoo and how God demonstrated to her, an "Unorganized Homeschooling Mom" that His Grace is new every morning.
Ah! Home school outings really are jam-packed with opportunity for learning, forging relationships and making memories. What outings have you enjoyed lately? Feel free to click "comments" on this post and share your experiences or link to your own blog posts – far and wide, we love to hear of others’ experiences!
List of Blog Posts featured according to Outing Venue:
- Butterfly World
- Tygerberg Zoo
- Tygerberg Hill
- Army Museum
- Imhoff Farm
- Noon Day Gun
- Settler Village in Bathurst
- Cape Point Ostrich Farm
This post features on the South African Carnival of Homeschool Bloggers where South African home schoolers share experiences, ideas, philosophies and much more. You can join the carnival too by heading to the South African Carnival of Homeschool Bloggers sign up page. In the meantime, please feel free to browse through the links on this page to some awesome South African home school blogs!