Sunday, 22 September 2013

Learning on the road

Well it's been an amazing few days and I just wanted to write a little about learning on the road, and some observations I've made about the kids in general.

Our trip has been centred around variety, and exposing the children to as many different scenarios, activities and sights as possible. Being children, they have a strong need for rest and playtime, so we don't drag them round too many sights, and always balance intense city/town trips with chill-out days. No matter where we are or what we're doing though, they're soaking up the whole experience like the big sponges that they are!

The skills and language they are acquiring seems so easy and natural, and completely in context. Confidences slowly gained in different activities. Dots joined up in their understanding. Whether we are doing ordinary and mundane things, or really exciting trips out, they're learning. They're learning by playing, by living, by exploring, by asking questions and discussing many possible answers. By trial and error. By accident. When we're not trying.

I have been quietly despairing for a few months that after spending a lot of money on swimming lessons, that Finn and Herbie seemed to only mess about in the pool, and both boys were doing doggy paddle every time we went to a pool. I had visions of them never learning to swim 'properly'. And suddenly, through no real effort, this last week, they are swimming lengths using the front crawl as if they'd been doing it their whole lives and I simply imagined there was a time when they couldn't do it! My jaw literally dropped as I have watched them swimming about with such strength and confidence, and it's been another one of those moments when I realize that I should have had more faith in them, and trusted that they would do it when they were good and ready and not a minute before - like everything else!

Herbie went off to a Boulangerie on his own yesterday and bought us a couple of baguettes and went off to do the recycling asking the campsite owner where to go, and wandering off quite some way to do it.

Alfie has learnt to ride a scooter on this holiday, and to whistle, and has been doing both with such delight - at every opportunity!

Indie has been showing more independence and testing his skills to the max in tree climbing, scooter-riding, and wandering off on his own.

Finn has been playing Civilisation on his DS, and conquered all of Alexander the Greats lands, which I gather is no small feat,, and has also been playing a Farm simulator game, where you have to manage and run your own farm. He absolutely loves it, and has has taken great pride in building up his farm and improving it over the seasons.

They've learnt some simple horsemanship after each having a pony trek ride throught the forest, and watched the beautiful and sad black and white film from the 1950's called White Mane about a wild white horse, in the Camargue region, whilst we stayed there.

Finn used his birthday money and some from our educational fund to buy a genuine leather repo Centurion helmet for his museum, after a visit to a very impressive Roman amphitheatre in Orange. His knowledge of the Romans has come from so many fun and interesting sources - we try to keep things light! We've learnt a lot of really ordinary everyday things about the Romans from Asterix, and after visiting the amphitheatre, we watched Life of Brian, which went down a storm. All dots joining up - using comedy and humour along the way.

After going to the Louvre in Paris, we bought The Da Vinci Code on DVD and the older boys watched it, which prompted of course, many discussions about, religion, conspiracies, the Knights templar etc etc. And revisiting the mediavel fairytale citadel of Carcassonne (where they filmed some of Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves) has highlighted yet more religious history - relating to the Cathars, Knights, the Holy Grail and Franco-Spanish history.

Playing Yahtzee has taught the children to count quicker in units, tens and hundreds - all so easily and non-schooly and no workbooks involved. Ditto working with money, or discussing the relative depth in cms of this swimming pool or that - such ordinary everyday parts of life we take for granted, yet they all make up an understanding of the world.

Regular, ordinary life on the road, whether we're rolling or stationary, teaches all of us so much. Every day is a new adventure. One day we learn about sweet production, the next Flamingoes. It's all just so beautifully, beautifully random. I love this lifestyle on the road, and I know it will be over again soon. We sail home next Monday. Then we'll be adventuring in a new way. Catching up with friends, signing up to new activities, day tripping less often but day tripping none the less. It's hard to imagine pumpkins and soups and brown leaves and October whilst here in the beautiful Lot and Garonne region, in 26 degrees heat, but my thoughts turn to our winding journey northwards, homewards. Our adventures here may seem extraordinary, but back home there will be different adventures to be had. I'm looking forward to them already!

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