The Homeschool Minute ~ Hands-on Learning

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Hands-on Learning
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Mercy Every Minute   

The Wuehler Family

I used to jump out of bed in the morning, quickly get dressed, and race out the door to catch a bus or walk/run to school. I walked in the Virginia snow, the California rain, and the heat of the Arizona desert. I got up too late for breakfast, never packed a lunch, and often had no jacket or umbrella or backpack. I was never prepared. My body was wide awake by the time I got to school, but my brain was still dozing. Sit down, open the books, listen to the teacher, write notes; the end. Get up, try to get to the next class before being bullied or made fun of, and sit down again for the next class. I slogged through each day just waiting to get home so I could eat and rest, relax and be myself … oh yes, and do all the homework I had accumulated throughout the day.

Looking back, the trouble makers weren’t really trouble makers, they were just boys who needed to move, wiggle, do something active … and the girls just needed to talk and relate; move and create.

My children get to do all of that and not be called trouble makers, rather respected individuals, and hands-on, real-life learners.

They can take their math or language arts up to the fort to the picnic table and enjoy their work with a snack and a pair of binoculars. They can read classics, listen to history on audio, and actually perform all those cool science experiments most kids only see on TV. They can open the art cabinet and pull out whatever they need to be creative anytime they would like. Oh, and they get the sleep and the nutrition they need–and no extra homework bogging down their free time so they can play baseball or go bowling or catch butterflies–without the stress.

Hands-on learning is the opposite of what traditional school offers children. Other schooling options have to fit the child into the school mold, rather than opening a door for the child to learn in freedom.  

Hands-on learning is doing things like lapbooks and drama and unit studies; playing games, and taking nature walks. Hands-on learning is creating artwork for grandma, and baking treats for the neighbors; it’s sewing and beading and paper crafting. 

Hands-on learning is gardening and raising fish or lizards or sea monkeys. Hands-on learning is knitting hats for orphanages and entering rabbits in county fairs. Collecting flowers or insects, rocks or chickens or snakes, and identifying them, researching their habits and habitats, and building exhibits. Hands-on learning in creating code for computer games and creating home based businesses as entrepreneurs. 


Your children will have far better memories and a far greater learning capacity, along with aptitude and life skills, because of all the hands-on learning you are doing in your home environment–much more than anything your own boring school days did for you.

In my schooling experience as a child, I was never able to really rest in body or soul, were you? But your children will have rest. And, they will learn where real rest comes from: Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” Matthew 11:29

In case you needed a reminder, you are doing what is best for your children by keeping them Home Where They Belong





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Raising Real Men    

From the archives: June 2014

When we were children, both our families enjoyed traveling, and when we hit the road, it was time to buckle down, hold on, and see everything we could manage! When we started homeschooling, we realized we had an unprecedented level of freedom and independence. No longer tied to the local school schedule, we could take family vacations when the rates were low and the crowds were lesser; and if Dad had a business trip, the whole family could pack up and come along!

Every part of the country has interesting and historical locations to visit, and with a little forethought, you can make even a routine visit to family or a quarterly business meeting into a large scale field trip.  

First, traveling with your family can be cheaper than you think. Whether it means taking a couple of sleeping bags for the kids or packing some lunch meat and fruit in a cooler, there are many ways to avoid prohibitive vacation expense. Be creative, be flexible, and remember that memories are better than extra stars on the hotel listing.  

Second, plan ahead! Most towns and cities have a visitors’ bureau with a website of interesting tour sites. Many have pages on Wikipedia, which will lead you to other websites. Of course, you may already have plans in mind; if you’re going to Washington, D.C., you’ll naturally include the Smithsonian and the Lincoln Memorial in your itinerary, and who can go to Boston without visiting “Old Ironsides” and the Public Gardens (remember Make Way for Ducklings?)

Be sure to check entry fees and opening hours. Many great attractions are totally free, including some of the best museums and historic sites in the country. However, some places are closed certain days or at unexpected times-so do your homework and avoid disappointments!

One surprising resource is the AAA Travel Guides. Besides the restaurant and hotel listings, they include all sorts of information about notable sights and local history. You can get them free if you’re a member, but we’ve often seen them in used bookstores for pennies. Even if they’re a few years old, they’re still useful.

Finally, stay flexible! Often we’ll catch sight of a historic marker or a brown informational sign and shout, “Field trip!” as we make an unplanned turn-off. You’ll be surprised at hidden treasures off the beaten path, places you might not make a journey to see, but will enjoy when you uncover them along the way.  

Our family has had some incredible “big field trip” adventures, whether exploring the historic sights of downtown Boston or camping near the Civil War battlefields of Virginia and Maryland. Whatever your travel plans this summer, make the most of the educational fun you’ll find just off the roadside!

Yours in the Battle,

Hal & Melanie Young 



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