1) Ask people their stories. Family members, people who work in the community, friends, people who come up and chat with you about homeschooling. The more stories the kids hear about other people, the more they can learn and be inspired. It’s also good for mom and dad – gives us ideas and, heck, it’s interesting!
2) Ask your local hangouts if they would give you a tour. Restaurants, stores and programs are often excited to show off their business. Small businesses are often more likely to give an impromptu tour. Bigger places usually respond better to something more organized.
3) Keep an eye out for handouts, pamphets, info sheets – these are free and can be anything from establishment histories to club information. At a local indoor playground, we found out about their birthday parties this way. We also found out that they offer school programs.
4) Give the kids a chance to “play” adult as much as possible. The older they are, the more they can do, and the less it’s “play”. Paying for things, asking for directions, looking for an item at the store, asking for information…the best way to learn how to get along in life is to be allowed lots of opportunity to solve real life problems as real life demands it.
5) Media is real life. TV, the internet, movies, video games…all kinds of media are a part of today’s real life. Kids who grow up today are going to become adults in a world where very few people will be without these things. Knowing how to use technology is important because it’s a huge part of our current culture, and will be a major part of the jobs that most of our kids will have as adults. That’s not to say I think kids should be exposed all the time – but if you’re looking for something to learn about real life, that’s gonna be a biggie.
6) Travel. Leave town and just let the kids explore. And enjoy the journey yourself too. Doesn’t have to be far. Just go out of your comfort zone a bit.
7) Get the kids involved in making the routine. The older the kids, more they will be involved. The “routine” can be how the day goes, how the week goes, or how certain family traditions are put together.
8) Volunteer. If the child’s old enough, let him have a paying job. The world is about give and take. When a child is born, he is all “take”. By the time a child is nearing adulthood, that give and take should be about even. Make that transition by doing little things for people. But remember, if you give too much, and you don’t have enough for yourself or your family.
9) Look for fun everywhere. Play in the community. Play with your neighbors, play at local hangouts and parks, play at the local game shop or at the soccer field. Everywhere you go, can you play there? Even just a little?
10) Open your eyes and listen to your heart. There are so many things that happen around us, but we don’t notice because we’re busy with getting from here to there, doing things we’ve planned, getting things done. But if we go out into our too-well-known community with what zen buddhism calls “the beginner’s mind”, you start to see it with the eyes of a visitor – or a child. You will start to see new things, and learning opportunities, that you never noticed before. They are all over the place out there. It’s up to us to notice them, is all.