This blog post is Part 2 of our Vision Casting series. Visit our blog to read the entire series.
There was a moment in time somewhere in between uncovering the alphabet and preparing for third grade standardized testing that the daily mindset of wondrous discovery was lost in my home.
Both of my children spent a few of their early elementary years in a public school setting, and I was a high school teacher in a nearby district. Learning was our life, and learning became a drudge.
By the time we made it home together in the afternoons, we were all too exhausted to wonder about anything besides when dinner would be ready. Even during our downtime, “learning” was reserved for weekdays between the hours of 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
When we decided to begin homeschooling, one of the first things I noticed about all three of us — students and teacher — was that our first impulse was to make a checklist and race through it to “get it done.” There was very little joy, and there was very little desire to go beyond that checklist in even the most trivial ways.
Discovery was nothing more than a television channel with neat safari animals and pet shows.
And so Learning with Friends was born. Not as a business venture, but simply as a way to inspire a new sense of discovery in my own children who weren’t showing much interest in our wondrous world at all.
This focus on discovery — uncovering the magnificence of the world around us — has seeped into all areas of our life. It has helped us leap from the confines of the school day, to the wide open world of a constant learner; it has transformed our mindset from one determined to “get it done” to one who asks “what else is there to find?”
The tool of hands-on science was the resource that got us there. But that vision of discovery was the true goal.
And, so as I write our Science with Friends bundles to share with you, I do so with the aim of discovery in mind. I believe this resource is a unique tool, particularly, because of its aim at that middle age group. There is something really magical about an upper elementary child who delights in the fantastic facts of the complex digestive system (Anatomy Bundle) and the radioactivity of plutonium (Chemistry Bundle). They are primed and ready to thrill over the simple observances of a nature walk, and, at the same time, use the scientific method to test whether an earthworm can smell (Biology Bundle) and how different types of erosion occur (Earth Science Bundle).
Our little ones, who are no longer little enough for sensory bins, are still captivated by using their senses to experience the study of science!
I thought the wonder of discovery was lost for my children. By giving it a place of focus and priority, our homeschool – and, truly, the way we think about learning – has been transformed.
Nicole Paitsel is creator and co-founder of Learning with Friends, a hands-on science enrichment curriculum that equips parents to create moments of discovery, connection, and conversation in their homes.