Monday, March 28, 2011

This Home Schooling Life: Learning From the Experts

Last week we had some work done in our kitchen.  It was a lot of fun.  
Not just for me (new counters, new sink, a garbage disposal and an almost ready dishwasher) but also fun for my boys, who watched the men who came to work on the kitchen.
They asked to watch each part of the process and as long as they are quiet and unobtrusive, I always let them.
It is a fantastic way for them to see, in real life, experts at work.
It's one of my favorite parts about home schooling actually. (uh, yeah, I have a lot of favorite things)

Because what often happens is, those experts don't just do their work and ignore the kids, they invite them to come alongside, talk to them, answer questions and teach them things that I could not.
And all this is happening in real time.  On the field, so to speak.
It isn't a presentation in front of a class with pictures on the overhead screen.
It's down on the floor, looking under the sink and checking for leaks.
It's getting to see, touch and maybe even use real tools on a real job.
It's just the kind of learning I like best.

Our plumber is wonderful.  (Harry's Rooter and Plumbing if you need one around here)
He didn't mind a bit when James wanted to sit on the floor next to him and watch him install the sink, the garbage disposal and dishwasher. (which, turns out will involve a whole new pipe being installed, so the plumber will be back and I'm still waiting to use my dishwasher.  but I'm ok with it.  it's ready and waiting and soon, I'll use it)
He listened to James myriad of questions and asked questions in return.
He showed him how the disposal worked and let him work it before it was installed, to fully understand the mechanics of it.
They discussed the names and functions of different tools, a hack saw, a drill, and why caulking is important.

After everything was installed, the boys learned you have to run the water and check for leaks.
They both took the job very seriously.
They were thrilled to hear the water running through the pipes.
No leaks were found.

Later that day, the boys learned about electricity when the electrician came.
They saw the different tools, learned about the fuse box, and ways to be safe when working with electricity.  They had a blast.

The amazing thing about this learning from experts is that it happens all the time.
Or it can happen.  
My kids are interested in life, and they like to ask questions.  And when someone is generally interested in what you are doing, you want to share your knowledge.

A couple of months ago we were on the Palos Verdes peninsula.
It is a prime spot for whale watching as the whales travel the channel there on their way north and south each year.
There is a small interpretive center with exhibits for the kids to explore as well as a large terrace on top of the bluffs, from which migrating whales can be spotted.
There was a very sweet, elderly lady there, volunteering, keeping count of the whales who passed that day.  She called our kids over to tell them there were some whales coming our way.

She then proceeded to pull out her own books and field guides to teach the kids all about whales.

She showed them what to look for when they were scanning the horizon, what it is called when a whale goes under, or brings his tail up, how long it takes between a spout and a breach and so much more.

She let them use her high powered binoculars.

And sure enough, we saw some whales!

It was a magical end to our nature study day.
Made so much more so by an expert who was happy to share her love of a subject, and her knowledge of it with a bunch of little kids who were eager to learn.
The best part of all this, my kids get to experience passion.
That lady loved watching whales and she was excited to share that with us.

So much of our learning takes place away from the table, away from our papers and even our books.  
The world is our classroom!
And it is so exciting.
Love from,

1 comment:

Lindsey Lea B said...

I love this post. It shows a quality to home schooling that is usually missed! The value of hands on learning and the awe of life. I was home schooled along with two of my younger brothers. And now i realize the benefits that go along with it. I hope to home school my children. Keep it up!!