Learning in Freedom- Our Nature Study Wake-Up Call

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So many doors are opening now that spring is finally here. Yesterday was another glorious day, so we took full advantage of it and walked to a nearby creek.

Watching us walk anywhere must really be a sight for others. We’ve been practicing walking with a partner in a straight line, and it’s really funny watching people drive by craning their necks to see the long line of kids behind me. I know it sounds too schoolish to some, but it beats having them all over the sidewalk, never knowing what they’re going to do. I love to hear the kids talking to each other. Yesterday we passed a cement truck, and I could hear Caollin explaining why the cement mixer has to keep turning. Eavesdropping has its perks!

There is an elementary school, which is right next to the creek ,and passing it was a little depressing. Not because I want my kids to go to school, but because I would love for those kids to experience the freedom that we homeschoolers enjoy. As we strolled past the playground, there were a bunch of kids playing outside, and all I saw was a sea of black because our school district recently implemented a school uniform policy. Seeing all the darkness and sameness there was a fitting symbol for the assembly line learning that is happening in these schools. The school kids always like seeing us pass (we go there quite a bit when it’s warm), and they always wave to us and smile.

Dillon took his fishing pole with him, so as soon as we arrived, he set out to try to catch a fish. The kids all scattered as soon as we got there- that walking in a line is quite difficult for them! They’re all explorers at heart, and that’s just what they set out to do.

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We took a sample of the pond water there (there’s a pond, too) to do an algae experiment later. The water is still quite deep from all of the rain and melted snow, so I eventually tried to lead them over to an area not so close to the water. It lasted for a short time while they found worms, bugs, and tree nuts, but then that blasted water beckoned to them again.

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We decided to cross to the other side so they could roll down the big hill, when we began to hear a lot of voices. We turned around and saw the school children in their line walking past the creek all holding a paper (probably an assignment). I mentioned to my kids that the other kids must be there on a field trip, too. We stood there watching them, with interest, but what we saw made me really sad. Their field trip consisted of walking single file past the creek without so much as stopping to look at a duck. Then they left.

I turned and looked at my kids and expressed pity for those children. While my kids were there and free to explore, the school children only experienced a little tease. I don’t blame the teachers; it would be very hard for them to control that many children at one time, but, at the same time, it was such an illustration of what these children are missing out on.

As we turned back around and headed to the big hill, I glanced back at the sea of black returning to the schoolyard. Then I heard the laughter of my own children as they began to roll down the hill, and I smiled.

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Author: Shelly Sangrey

I'm Shelly, a Christ-following, homeschooling Mom of eleven children ( okay, not ALL children. My oldest is 23.) I met my husband right after graduation, and we've been together ever since. Though my life can be hectic at times... okay, ALL the time, I wouldn't change it for anything.

25 thoughts on “Learning in Freedom- Our Nature Study Wake-Up Call”

  1. We’ve always said that if the kids wanted to go back to school we would let them and sometimes they express they might but it’s because they think if they go they’ll have the freedom to play and talk with their best friends like they do when we get together socially. They don’t realize there is not much freedom in school. We usually explain what a day in school is like versus what their days are like and then let them think about it. They always conclude that what they have is so much better!

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    1. Mine, too. The friends issue comes up here quite a bit, too. When we were doing a more traditional homeschool style, the kids would sometimes say they missed school because home was basically like school to them- minus the friends. Since we started unschooling, though, they never mention it anymore.

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      1. Right. Same here. I try to have kids over my house all the time and I also organize a lot of field trips with all the homeschoolers we know…. which is a lot… In fact I have a group of 50 going on a couple tours in May.

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    2. My daughter wants to go to school. Sometimes I’m not sure if the choice I am making is the right one.

      Would she thrive in school? She’s opinionated, outspoken, free spirited and curious. Could she fight the oppression? Stand in line, raise her hand, not speak unless spoken to?

      My husband is very clear, “she doesn’t’ want school, she wants something she hasn’t experienced. She would hate it and it would destroy the light in her eyes. The spark of interest.” I’m certain he’s right.

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      1. I think many children like the idea of school because they picture laughing children, fun art projects, and a smiling teacher. They don’t understand the reality of it. The bullying, not being able to ask too many questions, the constant disruptions. When Arianna was in school in 2nd grade, there was a boy in her class who would abuse the teacher, throw desks, and destroy the classroom. Arianna was hit by a flying desk. I called the school district and was given the runaround and told to speak to the teacher. Since I already had (I felt sorry for her. This child once ripped a necklace right off of her.), I spoke with the principal and was told that there were protocols they had to follow. Protocols? The school had to be put on lockdown several times for this child for God’s sake. Children certainly don’t understand that this can very well be the truth of school.

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  2. I wish. I live in a pretty big city and only know a handful of homeschoolers. I’ve tried looking for homeschool groups, but they all turn out to be expensive co-ops, which I don’t want. We just need a good group of people to meet with occasionally, and I can’t find that here. It’s frustrating.

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    1. Being so close to the New Jersey border have you considered looking in that area? I know with one car it might not be possible, but perhaps they have weekend events. I did some research a while ago on homeschool coops in Jersey and there were quite a few that were free or almost and they offered drop in and out opportunities. Just a thought.

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  3. This post made me cry, I’m not a weepy woman. I cry when it warrants, but the way you illustrated the differences between your kids and the school children was disheartening. The sea of black, the single file line and the cursory visit to the pond. This may be a poor analogy, but it felt like the difference between freedom and prison. Actually, that may be the perfect analogy.

    It’s hard not to rant and rave that homeschool is the best thing for kids. I know that so many people don’t feel that way and I wonder if it’s because the majority haven’t actually done their own research. I suppose ignorance is bliss, sometimes I wish I enjoyed my ignorance the way most people do. That’s not an insult, it’s simply some people believe what they are told and don’t question it. I honestly envy them and yet, I don’t want to raise my children like that. Maybe I should.

    *sigh* Just a really sad post.

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  4. I smiled seeing your children’s nature study. We spent all afternoon yesterday at the park. We passed an elementary school having recess on our way, and I told the kids that those kids only got to be outside with their friends a few minutes. They had all afternoon to play on the playground, run around and feed the ducks🙂

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  5. Love this post! In my situation,all 4 of my kids know what going to school is actually like. They would be only too happy (even my youngest who only experienced 4 months of 1st grade) to tell other kids what they don’t miss about going to school. They don’t miss the lines, the bells, the hall-passes, the rushed lunches where they couldn’t socialize, the forced and limited recess time which they will tell you was boring, and they certainly don’t miss the hours of homework after 6+ hours of school. My older kids certainly don’t miss the bullying, the profanity, the immodesty and the immorality they saw every day at schools in Arizona, Utah, Canada and Peru.

    My kids have even experienced wearing uniforms. We found the only positive about uniforms to be not having to work out what to wear each day. But you are right, uniforms are another way to conform. All kids look the same and all kids must act the same and all kids must learn the same things, the same way, at the same time.

    Once, when my daughter could no longer take the bullying from a certain boy, day after day, week after week, she bravely went to her teacher, and ended up in front of the vice principal who made her apologize to the boy! She had to apologize for giving the boy a cause to bully her, if you can believe that. This same daughter later begged me not to send her younger sister to her high school because she felt her sister would lose some of her innocence.

    No, we could never go back to school now that we have experienced the freedom homeschooling gives us. For us, there are way too many negatives and we’ve experienced most of them first-hand.

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    1. I know where you’re coming from. Seven of my kids were in school at some point, and while some of the teachers were amazing and are still great friends, boy, could I tell you some horror stories.

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  6. Your description of you day was very uplifting and a great confirmation of why we make the choice to homeschool. I went to public school in a small town and don’t remember it as being horrible, but I think I would have flourished in a homeschool setting. As homeschoolers, we have such a wonderful advantage in so many ways. We can take advantage of so many opportunities (like your Nature Study) and encourage learning based on our child’s learning style rather than on what works best to manage the group. Thanks for sharing your day!

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  7. My kids have been to school and have been homeschooled. They vastly prefer school. It’s just a lot of fun to be with your peers. They were lonely when we homeschooled, though we did lots of coops and things like that. Fortunately, their school is a delightful place.

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