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If You Think Your Curious Child Needs More Than Just School Curriculum, You Are Probably Right!

by Vidhya Narayanan of Oviyam
Photo by: Pexels

If you think about how you first became interested in the field that you chose to make your career, chances are you first got interested in it outside of the classroom.

As a youth, you probably read about it in books or magazines, spoke to someone from that field or visited a local museum or a science center that may have lighted the first spark that eventually became your career.

Considerable learning happens outside the classroom. There is no dearth of inquisitiveness in children and classrooms may never be adequate to satisfy all their learning needs. This is where homeschooling as a supplement for classroom learning comes in.

Classrooms are bound by curriculum. Although the curriculum is standardized and is based on extensive research on the common core essentials of every age and grade, there is always significant scope for age-appropriate learning to happen beyond what’s dictated by the curriculum.

In such cases, the learning is dictated by the child rather than the curriculum, making the learning process more interest-driven rather than regimen-driven.

So when my five year old asked how a bumblebee was different from a honeybee, and on a different occasion, if all tarantulas were venomous and dangerous to humans, it was time to embark on our next homeschool field trip: “Xploring Xtreme Bugs” at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, PA.

We set out early in the day to reach the academy closer to its opening time. She chose to visit the Xtreme Bugs exhibit as soon as we got our tickets.

We were greeted by a life-sized cicada and a katydid, a giant vinegaroon, a monarch butterfly, and then the big question we were seeking an answer to: the bumblebee and the honeybee. Both life-sized, large enough to let her meticulously explore the various parts of the insect and read descriptions to get the answers she needed.

The exhibits were created with thoughtful precision. It was enough to get someone as little as my daughter excited, with the giant figures giving insights into never-before-seen aspects of a bug’s body structure, and the descriptions simple enough for her to read and comprehend, (while I supplemented with additional explanation and clarifications to her questions).

As we walked past feeling like little lilliputians beside the big bugs, she got glued to a Myth or Fact touchscreen game. Like the good old tests in a traditional classroom, the game not only refreshed the facts she read in the preceding exhibits, but there was also scope for informed guesses which added to the fun.

Next was a giant scenic board game emulating a mix of habitats – everything from crops and flowers, to burrows and rainforest floors. She had to pick up large pieces of insect magnets and match them with the correct habitat.

Very soon she had already spent nearly a half-day having lots of fun and learning in the process. She had by then learnt the answer to her bumblebee versus honeybee question, and that orchid mantises camouflaged like beautiful white flowers, that madagascar cockroaches could hold their breath for 30 minutes under water, and that vinegaroons discharge an offensive liquid when attacked which contains acetic acid that smells like household vinegar.

Minutes past this exhibit there was a real living specimen of a tarantula and the volunteer at the exhibit was patient enough to explain everything about the tarantulas – including her question if all of them were venomous. Apparently, they are, but most of them don’t cause long lasting harm to humans.

There was a lot of fun, and a lot of non-traditional learning. The exhibits appealed to her tactile interests and helped her to touch and explore answers in a very hands-on manner.

She wouldn’t probably differentiate it enough to say if it was a fun trip or a learning trip: when you extend learning beyond the classrooms and dive into rabbit holes driven by the child’s interests, the distance between fun and learning often become diminished.

So while you help your child learn and practice the classroom curriculum, always keep an open eye to look for those unique little interests your child may have.

Consider homeschooling field trips that could encourage their inquisitiveness while rendering an enriching and fun-filled learning experience.

Vidhya Narayanan is a mom, writer, entrepreneur, photographer, lifestyle blogger, and a yoga enthusiast. She’s the founder of Oviyam (@theoviyam). On her Instagram feed, she posts “Vidhya’s 30 Second Review” of books, toys, games and other products.

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