Part of the beauty of homeschool is the ability to design it according to your own priorities and principles. One of our principles is “life is school”. This means two things to us. One, that education isn’t only found in books and classrooms, and two, that learning opportunities can be found in daily life if you have the flexibility to recognize and take advantage of them.
We love it when these opportunities come from people outside our family. Because of our transient lifestyle we get to know of a lot of interesting and talented people, and occasionally they’ll take an interest in sharing their knowledge with our kids.
This has numerous benefits for the kids. It allows them to learn about things that we can’t necessarily teach. It allows them to form independent relationships with other people, and be themselves away from the influence of their family. It allows them to learn about work.
Fort Pierce is lacking in a lot of things, but it is rich in these kinds of learning opportunities. While we’re here, we’ve dedicated one day a week for what we call “work study”, where the kids go off and pursue their own interests.
Eli is taking flying lessons. All of the kids have spent tons of time on Combat Flight Simulator 3, which has pretty realistic flight dynamics, and is one of our few approved video games. Eli is studying and collecting hours in the air with an instructor that he can use to qualify for a license when he’s 16.
Aaron goes to work with a friend of ours who is a marine mechanic/engineer. Some days Aaron just fetches tools or sweeps out the shop, but other days he’s genuinely helpful. On those days he comes home extremely dirty but also very happy. But every day he learns, and every day he gets to hang out with real working men, and not just his sits-at-a-computer-all-day dad. We like to envision it sort of like the barber shop scene in Gran Torino. I meet people now who know me as “Aaron’s dad” and tell me about what he’s fixed on their boats.
Sarah helps out at a horse ranch. She loves horses and enjoys just being around them. She feeds them, bathes them, and shovels out their stalls. She’s approaching the point where her help is valuable enough to trade for her riding lessons. I wouldn’t be surprised if one day she has a job working with horses.
Sam joins the older three for private kickboxing lessons volunteered from a friend. Jim works them hard and they’re learning fast. Apart from the physical skills, they’re also learning the discipline and respect that is typical in martial arts training. I often go just to watch.
We’re all about exploration, growth, and progress toward a vaguely defined goal. These kinds of activities help us feel like we’re still moving forward, even while the boat is tied to the dock.