Thursday, September 23, 2010

Homeschooling While Traveling

Apparently I'm not very good at this......this homeschooling while traveling gig.  We are in Oregon, mostly because we've never visited this lusciously green state before.  A 'just because' kind of vacation can be quite satisfying on many levels, except this time, not so much for the progress I intended in our homeschooling lessons.  Somehow Max wiggled out of his daily math (seven days later and I'm still trying to figure out how that exactly happened - must have been my subconscious hard at work, not really wanting to drag Max to the Math) and barely opened the materials I brought along.  Just to be fair, I brought along some FUN stuff!  But life outside the 'inside' wherever we were proved to be too enticing. 

Looking at this with a different, unseasoned eye, though, I see that much learning happened along the way.  We spent five days in Eugene, Oregon in the Willamette Valley.  A peaceful farming community away from the concrete jungles of the big city.  We stayed on a working organic farm and saw an excellent example of where simply incredible food comes from - the ground!  The bushes!  The trees!  Grilled peaches dripping down our chins, crisp apples right outside the front door, plump blueberries a hop, skip and a jump from the breakfast table.  Flowers we'd never seen before, hoop houses to extend the growing season, sunflowers 8 feet tall - a pesticide-free property, which was entirely refreshing.  Organic eggs, cheese, yogurt, local honey and jams.  Max picked up a mean game of badminton while there, too.  I'll file that one in the "hand/eye coordination" category.  He became obsessed with the game and challenged anyone older than him who happened to meander by the court. 

A trip to the coast to see the Pacific!  Climbing up that dune and cresting it was so cool.  Max took up dune rolling as a new sport.  He'll have bits of sand in his ear canals until his next pediatric well check in a year, no doubt.  Worth every grain!  He laughed, danced, and practiced his karate moves in the pounding surf.  He saw men crabbing on the docks in a coastal town, watched numerous boaters go about their fishing business.  He saw large swaths of felled trees and the big logging trucks that screamed down the mountains - not so cool.  Some shell hunting and more dune rolling and the afternoon was completely complete in his memory banks.

He learned to ride a tandem bike.  A visit to the Science Factory in Eugene and their planetarium for the star show taught us a few things.  He learned what slugs are and how much like dog doo they resemble on the sidewalk.  He saw a blue heron take off in flight in some wetlands, set aside just for the heron to do his heron thing in.  He saw massive waterfalls outside Portland.  He learned how much it can rain in one place in the course of a week.  He visited the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry and played with umpteen physics gadgets.  He read a few books while here - some of them comics like Garfield, but others that are part of a history through literature class he is taking and another book that interested him.  He got to see the biggest bookstore in the world and appreciate how much his mom can dawdle in such a place.  It was A M A Z I N G.  And I want to go back for about six days - just to the store.  I could browse all day, sleep there, and get up the next day to keep browsing. 

He learned that in the Pacific Northwest, coffee is liquid sunshine.  He learned that from a local we spoke to.  He learned what a transient or homeless person looks and acts like.  He really studied on them and asked questions about them of us.  We were perplexed in some of our answers.  There were so many teens on the streets - so much so that it seemed a 'trendy' sort of thing and I spend time wondering about it, about their motivations or reasons for choosing such an existence.  Lots of dreadlocks, brightly colored hair and wild clothes toting around large backpacks and cartons of cigarettes.  As long as they stuck together they seemed happy.  Alone, it must be a scary road and I'm not sure I understand it.

He learned about tall city buildings, because we're staying in one now in Portland.  He learned a little about earthquakes from the science museum.  He had some Thai food, ate it and liked it!  He learned how to change a flat tire beside a busy highway in the pouring rain - probably better than the math lesson that was scheduled for that day.  Ugh.  That wasn't fun, but a part of life nonetheless.

All in all, not a bad learning experience.  I just hadn't planned for any of it and instead had some creative writing, reading and math on the docket.  Next week!  We're on our way back to New Mexico tomorrow.  It's been a terrific seven days together as a family.  Maybe homeschooling can happen quite naturally while traveling and I can loosen my grip a little.  That's what's incredible about this whole homeschooling adventure!  As a homeschooling parent you gradually learn what becomes important and what simply isn't.  I am so much more relaxed this year compared to last year, which is good for all parties.

Here's Max reading while on vacation........I think it's a comic book.

I did find some fun learning materials while out and about on this trip and will post them soon!

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