Without the confines of the four walls of a school building, homeschooling gives an opportunity for non-traditional and creative learning. There are several ways to incorporate hands-on experiences in your everyday teaching.
Without the time constraints of a normal school day, we can attend local museums, concerts, plays and do other enriching activities. One of the best benefits of this flexibility is that these locations are often not very busy and we can enjoy them without the crowds.
Creating a hands-on experience does not require much preparation. Consider what your child is studying or where their interest lies: do they enjoy science, nature, music, art? Next, search for local resources in your area. Museums are often a good place to start. When you visit the museum, make sure to ask a docent if they offer any additional educational opportunities. Some museums provide backpacks with additional books, scavenger hunts and other educational materials in them. Since homeschoolers have the freedom to attend during the day, docents are typically more receptive to spending more time discussing the museum and providing a more thorough learning experience.
Museums will often provide homeschoolers with a teacher discount, so make sure you ask to see if they have some sort of educator or student discount when you purchase your tickets. And of course you can always get a group of homeschoolers together for a group discount.
In addition to visiting museums, one of my daughter’s favorite things to do is to take a nature walk. We bring an empty egg carton with us and she happily fills the compartments with her nature treasures. Once home, we go through our field guides to trees and flowers to identify what we found, often saving it for her to create a natural history museum inside our house at the end of the school year.
Homeschooling also allows for other unconventional ways to learn, even without something as formal as a planned field trip. One day last fall my daughter and I stopped in a knitting store. She expressed an interest in learning how to knit and the owner sat us down and started teaching her. We decided to go there every Tuesday as part of a knitting group. While there, my daughter not only interacted with other women, but learned the owner of the store was from another country. We went to the library and did a unit study on the country she was from and my daughter would discuss what she had learned every Tuesday at the store. This was yet another opportunity that would not have occurred had we not homeschooled.
Educational opportunities are plenty with homeschooling and don’t necessarily include strictly learning from books. As long as you are receptive to new opportunities, you’ll find plenty of places for hands-on learning experiences.