Homeschooling Outside the [Curriculum] Box and another giveaway!

Welcome to week 3 of Home Educating Family's Blog Hop! This week's topic is "Homeschooling Outside the [Curriculum] Box." Be sure to leave a comment after this post for a chance to win this week's prize--a beautiful On the Go Planner! Click the box below to read more posts from HEF's Review Team members and for even more chances to win!

So...what does homeschooling outside the box mean to me?

Well, for our family, the needs of the military dictate much of our lives, which then affects our schooling. We move often. In fact, we are moving this fall, for the third year in a row. If I was committed to getting a curriculum completely done the way it was written, following a certain way of doing things, or worrying about how I feel school “ought to” look, I should just give up.
Schooling outside the box has meant being flexible with our learning wherever we’re stationed (this will be our 11th geographical move as a family—NOT counting houses!) and making the most of whatever situation we’re in. We've lived for months out of suitcases, schooling using only the library and math workbooks while we waited for household goods to go from literally one side of the globe to the other. We've homeschooled through major medical problems far from family help, and during Dad’s long deployments to scary places.
But it’s not only been working through the challenging aspects of life! Homeschooling outside the box has meant recognizing opportunities around us. It’s been visiting tidal pools, hiking through rain forests, skiing the Alps, and viewing the art of the Vatican with our own eyes.
I have to believe that if I was so wedded to someone else’s schedule,those things simply wouldn't happen. We have a seemingly constant amount of upheaval in our lives, and it would be easy to focus on how ‘behind’ on book work we may be getting and think we need to forge ahead vs. enjoying our present circumstances. Of course, it’s important to work hard and foster discipline, but I hope our eyes are always wide open to the wonders right around us. Our main goal is to teach our children how to learn, isn't it? And that isn't always best done with a stack of workbooks. I've heard many experienced homeschoolers say that the actual curriculum you use matters little, if the atmosphere is warm and the parent is involved (probably not good news to the curriculum companies!).
I’m inclined to agree. Legos and library books will get you through a lot of bad times.
And while our children need to learn to pass tests and prepare for college as they grow older, much of our schooling is about letting them show me how much they've learned, vs. “catching them out” with trick test questions. My experience has shown they seem to actually learn more this way.

Some other things we do to learn “outside the box” that anyone can do:
  • Find movies, games, or DVDs on a particular subject, and let that be “school” for the day (anything from a  historical movie to a geography game to a documentary on cranberry harvesting). If you’re interested, they will be.
  • Rather than always completing end-of-chapter questions, let your kids make a video about it! This was especially fun when my kids studied the Industrial Revolution and immigration. One played the role of “talk show host,” and the other was an immigrant whom she interviewed. They set it in the early 1900s, complete with accents and costumes. It was hilarious, but they learned so much!
  • If you have an artistic child, once in a while switch it up and let her draw her favorite part of a chapter vs. doing the questions.
  • While studying a country or culture, cook meals, do art, listen to music from that country. I promise this will cement the experience for your kids. AND it’s a lot of fun!
  • Read aloud together. Read and read and read some more. That is, hands down, our favorite ‘school’ thing to do. We have laughed and cried through hundreds of books together. They know now when it’s getting to a sad part, because I start having that “crying voice.” And yes, I still read together with my high schoolers. 
  • Do your book work somewhere different, like outside, laying on the trampoline, under the table...

Learning “outside the box” doesn’t have to be elaborate. It’s simple, really. Have fun!!

(they're gonna kill cute little girls about 10 years ago!)

Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win this week's gift from Home Educating Family: a beautiful, versatile On the Go Planner. This purse-sized planner is not just for homeschoolers! Due to international sweepstakes laws, this giveaway is for U.S. entrants only. This giveaway is not tied to any social media site. All prizes must be claimed within 8 weeks. Congratulations to last week's winner of the Wall Calendar, Vonda Skelton!