I know what
of books is like
coffee . . .
cookie math. (You have three cookies.
Mama eats two, like this. How many are
left?) Therefore, we always make room
for math books . . . and, yes, cookies, to
review basic subtraction.
By combining grades and subjects, we
can make one book work for everyone
studying history, geography, and literature. Don’t tell, but we ignore publisher’s
age recommendations. When a subject is
completed, those books are bumped for
We Redefine Education
We have learned to take advantage of
whatever is available at the time. We’ve
hiked the west, explored our nation’s
largest cities, practiced Spanish in the
southwest, eaten alligator in the Florida
Keys, snuggled fawns on a deer farm,
camped with pipeline workers, played
with “sleeping grass” in Hawaii, stood
in four states at once, hunted fossils on
the east coast, visited professional art-
ists and musicians, explored museums
and architectural wonders, retraced the
steps of Lewis and Clark, marveled at our
nation’s birthplace, walked in America’s
oldest homes, and, yes, cracked many
books. We’ve also performed and sold
our CDs throughout the country, which
is a hands-on business education.
One of our favorite teachers is God’s
creation. We’ve been to most of America’s
national parks, but we also learn about
nature on a small scale wherever we
are. Nature study takes time—nothing
more—and time requires no shelf space.
Our world has stretched to include 49
states, but we can still fall into ruts. Push-
ing the boundaries by exploring new or
unlikely places or digging deeper into the
community we’re in provides new learn-
ing opportunities. Whether we venture
into that fiftieth state (Alaska, if you’re
curious) or visit a new-to-us event or
market, the experience is a life lesson.
Best of all, during our travels we have
met thousands of people, and every one
of them has a story. Taking the time to
ask questions of people is like reading
dozens of books that will never be writ-
ten. It may not improve SAT scores, but it
opens our eyes to different lifestyles, oc-
cupations, and perspectives.
Essentially, when circumstances allow,
our learning takes place on paper. When
the world is a better teacher, the books
are shelved, and we lace up our shoes.
Does it Work?
It’s true that our approach is unconven-
tional, and some might question its ef-
fectiveness. We travel to a new town every
few days. Our schedule looks different
each week. Sometimes topics take consid-
erably longer than we expect; in fact, our
oral reading of The Prince and the Pauper
crossed the one-year threshold. Gasp!
Because we’ve encouraged a learning
mind-set in our 16-plus years of home-
schooling, our children will never finish
learning, even after we slap a “graduate”
sticker on them. They do, however, even-
tually leave the “official” schooling phase.
A family selfie at the Grand Canyon; we’re scoping it out for an
upcoming hike to the bottom.
Nature is an amazing teacher, so we hike whenever we can.
This is Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado.