More and more people are choosing to homeschool their kids every year. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, about three percent of school-age children are homeschooled and that number continues to grow. For our family, we find the combination of public school and homeschooling to be a perfect balance of socialization, education and community. Especially since we have the added benefit of traveling around the country to a new destination every three months and are using the world as our classroom. As a trained constructivist elementary school teacher, I could not imagine a better combination of hands-on, meaningful learning and fun for my eight year old child.
A classroom with one curious, interested and eager child awaits me every morning. Learning comes to life as we explore the different states we live in. The diverse settings provide for a wide array of topics to be learned based on where we are geographically. Living in Massachusetts and New Hampshire for the majority of his life, Jack has visited Boston many times to learn about the history of the city and our country. There are many outdoor gems in New England as well, such as Walden Pond and the White Mountains. When we lived in Wisconsin we learned about farms. In Texas, we explored the Alamo and the flora and fauna native to the desert. In Florida, we focused on the ocean and outdoors, while in Washington state we hiked in the rainforest, visited Mt. Rainier, and explored Mt. St. Helens where we learned about volcanoes.
Here in Memphis, we have begun our education on the many musicians who have shaped this city. Jack has now listened to live blues, jazz, country music and more. We visited Graceland, home of Elvis, and toured the grounds and museums, while at Sun Studios Jack sang into the same microphone as this iconic singer. Listening to live music on Beale Street feels like taking a step back in time, especially in the famous B.B.King’s Blues Club as the trumpet, keyboard, and guitar all mix together to create a smooth, yet intense sound.
Living less than ten miles from the second largest river in America, The Mississippi, is an exciting place to be. The stories of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn come to life as we walk the river and witness a beautiful sunset over the city. It’s an inspirational spot to draw, write or read. The importance of water to the Native Americans, early settlers, and the establishment of cities is right here for Jack to see and experience firsthand.
During Black History Month, we stood on the grounds of The Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, hearing the audio of the day he was shot from the listening stations out front while looking right at room 306. As he listened, Jack became visibly upset and leaned into my arms, feeling the history come to life by standing in the spot where the event actually happened. In April, Tim’s parents will be visiting and we will tour the Civil Rights Museum that is now located at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, possibly on the very same day Dr. King was assassinated there fifty-one years ago. This is powerful stuff.
I could go on and on with what we have already done and learned, some big moments and places, others just small specks that came to life simply because we were living in a certain place at a certain time. This is a dream come true for me as a parent and educator. Our classroom may change every few months but Jack is being shaped as a person and learner in incredible, uniquely wonderful ways and I couldn’t be happier giving my son this gift.