Learning from the world – your backyard can be your classroom…

Learning from the world – your backyard can be your classroom…
June 9, 2015 Lainie Liberti

We learn naturally and effortlessly from the world around us; a simple day to day experience can provide us with so many unexpected educational opportunities. This is a fact I find, quite simply, mind-blowing. Termed world schooling, it’s about being truly present in a particular moment in time, and learning from these everyday experiences as they occur. Of course you don’t have to be traveling to be a world schooler; much of this learning can be done in your very own backyard. As a parent or guardian, you can use your intuition and awareness of these situations and apply them to your child. Be open to their particular interests and cues; support and facilitate their learning and in turn you are enabling these daily experiences to become so much more.

Geography: An uncomplicated trip to the grocery store can open up the world around them when you have time to browse the aisles in leisure. In fact from this one destination alone, you can come up with many different teaching inspired opportunities depending on the interests of your child. As much food is imported, it is a great exercise in learning about which food is produced from where and it can inspire many interesting discussions about countries, climates, lifestyles, diets and much more. Take it one step further and search for a recipe from that country perhaps using an ingredient you spotted in store and use the experience to learn and bond as a parent and child.

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Geology: As Minecraft continues to sweep the worldwide web, children are learning more about ores, elements and stones than they ever thought possible. Their knowledge of emeralds, diamonds and gold can be transferred to real time by a visit to a museum or even a jewelry store where they can see these minerals, metals and gemstones for themselves. Obsidian, redstone and lapis lazuli can be found in the vocabulary of many 6 to 13 year olds these days; instructing them in the fact that powdered lapis lazuli was worn by Cleopatra as eye shadow puts a whole new reality spin on it.

Social Science: A visit to a farm, particularly for inner city based kids can be a real treat and not just for the opportunity for them to hold a lamb or feed it a bottle of milk. A farm visit can teach children about plants, animals and their connecting life cycles. Make these visits more than once (other than the ritual Thanksgiving or Halloween visit) so they can see the cycles in action. A farm environment allows them to learn about food security, farming practices, local food systems – skills that for many kids are just not realized in our consumer ready environment.

Mathematics: Another example which I would love to share was given to me by my L.A. based friend whose husband was a jockey. She would take her then 8 year old daughter along to the track so she could watch her father work. Her daughter continuously asked questions about the odds and how the betting system worked and this conversation naturally led them down the path of calculating percentages and simple math equations. If you don’t live close to a track, one of the most prestigious races in history called the Royal Ascot will take place soon and you can follow it online, figure out the odds and participate in all the betting action at Ascot Racecourse with William Hill (if that’s your cup of tea). Applied math in a real life situation – unforced, educational and fun.

While the learning provided by a particular situation may not immediately lend itself to a standard educational format, you might be surprised by what you can inspire in your child once you become more in tune to the surroundings. I am continuously surprised by my own personal learning and that of my child every day as we go about our normal lives. Let your child lead and be there to help direct their interests which ever direction it may take you.

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