Lifecation of Learning

One of the first things people ask of our adventure is something surrounding schooling for the girls.  My response likely surprises most as I answer casually something to the effect of “we are road schooling”.  Most people have trouble getting their head around the home schooling term in general, but I have come to feel that life should be a series of learning adventures and that it never stops.  Our job as parents and teachers is that we instill the LOVE of learning and the rest will come.  Too often (as with my public school career), I loved school as a youngster and then began to learn for the tests given to me and then forget what I learned.  I think this happened because the learning was forced.  I have done my fair share of reading on many subjects surrounding this topic and am still learning a great deal of how and why our system is as it is today.  I am not being critical here, just wanting to open the box a bit, explore other options that might be more effective for some children.

The next question might be “how do you know if they are getting their academics in order”?  Well, I do agree that math and language are critical to be learned as building blocks so we are sure to focus on that just about daily during our truck driving time.  But the rest often came when the girls were presented something or something caught their interest. Here is a fairly comprehensive list of some things that we have learned and experienced on our trip, each focusing on a different element of academia, fitness, or dexterity.  I do not promise that these are in chronological order, I wrote them as they came to me:

1.  Went sledding down the sand dunes in Bruneau Dunes

2.  Fireside chats about oxygen/sparks/stars…and many other topics

3.  Mini River rafting down the calm Wenatchee River in Washington and bathing in the water by our Jack (with environmental castile soap of course!)

4.  Creating a love of animals of all types including extensive knowledge of birds, gators, horses, dolphins, moose, bats, horseshoe crabs and kinkajous to name a few

5.  Explored a few science museums across the country including Discovery Center in Idaho

6.  Lengthy discussion of ‘ologys’ on a bike ride through the wine country and what some of them mean turning into a project of studying one a bit in depth

7.  Wrote articles, journal entries and blogs for the Westridge student newsletter, family blog CreasyClan and self

8. Found tremendous joy in all types of nature:  saw, touched, and emotionally got wrapped up in it

9.  Went on many bike rides together that taught traffic and safety laws

10.  Learned how to ride a motorcycle and skateboard

11.  Learned about the creation and engineering of many man made creations including Coulee Dam and watched a laser light show based on its’ history

12.  Enjoyed preparing, measuring, and the math of cooking all while learning about food from various countries they chose to learn about

13.  Toured a farm and cider mill with a local school class all while camping on the grounds.  Mom picked her own tomatoes and canned lots of marinara sauce

14.  Bouldered in Hueco Tanks in Texas after learning about native history and hieroglyphics

15.  Got out of their “comfort zone” often in regards to people, places, space and situations while in the safety of their parents bosom

16.  Hiked several mind boggling National Parks including Zion, Grand Canyon, Tetons, Yellowstone, Everglades, Petrified Forest, Carlsbad Canyon and Devils Post Piles

17.  Hiked in the wild swamps of the Everglades up to their thighs in Big Cypress, FL and saw a gator in the distance.  Learned about flora, birds and plant life of the Cypress trees

18.  Gleaned much about the US’ native history and tasted cat tail reeds and made their own Cairns (stacked rocks), hieroglyphs, and Indian wear

19.  Pursued Las Vegas family friendly haunts at M&M World, Rain Forest Café, Fountain displays and hotels galore.  We even met a large pet lizard named Vegas!

20.  Created so much pretend play from fairy homes, giants ears, nerds, pioneers, Indians to rock stars, glamour and ugly fashion shows and Pippi to name a few

21.  Took so many tours they are hard to count:  glass blowing, kaleidoscopes, candle making, oyster shucking, bakery, sugar cane, art galleries, barges, USS Alabama, chocolate, copper mine of SLC and stone factory

22.  Learned how to make trick photos with an inner city group of Latina girls in El Paso, Texas

23.  Kayaked and canoed in beautiful water from Austin, Tx to the crystal clear water of Winachee Springs, FL.  It was so clear we could see turtles and gators swimming below us!

24.  Toured the capitol buildings and grounds of Austin, TX and Baton Rouge, LA –the “red stick” in French for those in the know

25.  Witnessed the Peabody Ducks at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis.  Also became more cultured with a stellar Nutcracker presentation and visit to the well noted Brooks art museum

26.  Earned a bevy of badges and patches from Jr. Ranger programs throughout the US

27.  Played hide-and-seek the seemingly endless fields of wheat in Idaho

28.  Experienced getting a tooth pulled in Boise, Idaho that was NOT a pleasant experience

29.  Had the pleasure of ringing the bell for the official start of the Ketchum, ID farmers market

30.  Were honored to be the participants in a “Living in Space” presentation at Houston NASA.  This along with getting VIP treatment and tour throughout from someone we met while on the road

31.  Sports:  ice-skating in Sun Valley, ID, snorkeling off the coast of Ft. Lauderdale (amazing), hula hooping, cheerleading, yoga, rock climbing, swimming in amazing places like natural hot springs

32.  Got “kissed” by a moth, caterpillar and kinkajou

33.  Parents woke kids early to the surprise of a Mama and baby moose passing through our campground; this as well as an elk outside our home window at dinner.

34.  Had SEVERAL opportunities to view celestial formations, planets, and the moon by seasoned experts with great telescopes

35.  Examined various scat with gloves of various animals

36.  Instigated self-titled “outside days” complete with backpack with provisions and safety items

37.  Self instigated garbage pickup with gloves in campgrounds

38.  Explored the Lewis and Clark fort from one of the coolest adventures in history

39.  Learned how to effectively build a fire—from “baby” to adult” along with all the safety knowledge around the element

40.  Created crafts/arts/sculptures from nature items, up cycled, or items we had on hand

42.  Learned the awesome life long characteristic trait of talking with people from all backgrounds, age, race, and walks of life and embracing that diversity

43.  Discussed racism and saw glimpses of it in the South

44.  Gleaned compassion for ailing Grandparents, one who is very close to death’s door.

45.  Enjoyed finding, making, and giving homemade gifts from the heart

46.  Enjoyed a Floridian rain shower and did just that—showered in the rain with shampoo and all

47.  Opportunity to sing, dance, play instruments and witness music from all walks of life.  Folk music by the turtle man in Key West, FL is a favorite

48.  Had a private police officer presentation in Florida and went through the fingerprint process at the local county jail

49.  Attended the ferry and audio tour of Alcatraz, Chinatown and the hustle and bustle of grand San Francisco—both Brian and my hometown haunts.  Never enough time in this town!

50.  Learned about how a horse is treated therapeutically with a water workout.  We also got to witness a surgery on site that moved fat from one part of the body to the knees to help in healing

51.  Street art and signs galore from the tree trunks of Katrina in Biloxi turned into wooden sculptures of birds and fish to the clay pot people in LA

52.  Rode a ferry—with JACK—in Texas as dolphins followed behind

53.  Visited a Katrina memorial and saw remnants of Katrina’s wrath but with the upside that community is rebounding

54.  Thanksgiving dinner with native New Orleans followed by bowling and zydako music and dancing

55.  Learned about anatomy of a boat by sailing with friends on Galveston Bay

56.  Participated in a “free hug” campaign in Santa Fe, NM

57.  Had a most amazing local and sustainable homemade dinner by friends we had met at the art walk in Santa Fe, NM

58.  Saved a pigeon from being killed by a shovel—Tess is a diehard animal activist!

59.  Science experiments abounded, self created and guided by us and others

60.  Math workbooks, music and LOTS of reading while driving

61.  So many parent created math problems I cannot list based on real life math involving cooking, navigation, budgeting, allowance, spending, and investing

62.  Witnessed a thrilling lightning and thunder storm that turned into a killer learning moment

63.  Discussed in great length evolution, Adam & Eve, religions which stemmed from the questions of how Christmas came about

Whew…did I forget anything?  I am sure I did.  Ok, so this list is for you in part but really I did it for me.  As I have created this list, I am humbled to see how many experiences we have been blessed to experience as a family.  This time has been beyond precious and has encouraged us in so many ways to slow down and really LIVE.  As we move back into our stick home in Lake Oswego, our lives will somehow be different, tweaked in ways we are maybe not yet even aware of and hopefully, we will remain humbled by the wealth and diversity of this country we live in.  And the journey continues on…


3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Derek on March 4, 2011 at 2:45 am

    Janet and Brian,

    This list is incredibly amazing. What an enormous gift you have given your girls, and each other. Very inspirational!



  2. Posted by andrea gaspari on March 4, 2011 at 3:12 am

    wow that was more than a life time of learning in such a short time. How very lucky your children are to have parents that allowed a journey of a life time like that. I guess we totally missed your coming through here. That week ended up being a bit crazy with Thinking day for girl scouts and a meeting plus the regular work and activities. I am so sorry to have missed you all. I hope we can find you up that way some day. We have not yet traveled between bodega bay and Vancouver if you can believe. We are always going south or to other states. I hear both Washington and Oregon are beautiful states. I also have yet to make it to New Oreleans, MI,AL,or those southern states although have been from FL up the the entire East Coast of course being from out there. We seem to always end up where family is. Thank you again for sharing your journey. It was so enjoyable to hear your stories.
    : )


  3. inspired and in awe once again. your family is very fortunate and i look forward to seeing you when you return. love be with you.


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