Feature Article – School’s Out, Education Isn’t by Marlin Detweiler
Educational Helps - by Laurie Detweiler
School’s Out, Education Isn’t
Our school year routinely ends the Friday before Memorial Day. This year was no exception. School is out.
This year was a little different. We had a respite as no one from our family graduated this year, although the next two years should produce a graduate per year. We all noted that the typical hurrah accompanying the end of a year wasn’t there—it was more like just another day. I’m not sure why this was so. Maybe because May was so busy we never stopped to think that summer was almost here. Regardless it was somewhat uneventful.
I remember as a young boy, upon having finished a school year, asking my father when we got vacation from church. Just like church we must realize education doesn’t stop. Now that summer is upon us we must all realize something—school’s out, education isn’t. What I mean is this: we may not have math class or history class, but we must recognize that the command of Scripture is to always be about the business of educating and discipling our children. There are considerable limitations in this regard for those of you who are school teachers. However, there are none for homeschool families.
Parents should realize that a great deal of learning happens outside the routine of homeschooling. Laurie, my wife, has some great ideas below in how to plan successful experiences while taking time away from the formal aspect of education. Our family’s routines are changing as our children age.
Teachers, please don’t fall prey to the out-of-sight is out-of-mind mentality. At Veritas Academy we’ve had teachers who have had tea parties with the girls of next year’s class during the summer. Many write notes to their rising students. All this to say, establishing a bond before the school year starts can pay great dividends in the aroma of the class and the learning that transpires therein.
We don’t see as many museums as we once did. Not that we’ve lost interest, but that we are more engaged in active participation than passive participation more typical of the museum environment. This is a normal progression. I would always prefer to be a player than a scorekeeper. I certainly don’t object to my boys following suit.
We make extraordinary effort to give our children as many experiences as we can. Whether it’s New York and Broadway, golf at St. Andrew’s or fishing for Mangrove Snapper in the Florida Keys, we want them to experience and enjoy God’s creation. We believe this is better enabling them to fulfill the command to take dominion of God’s creation, to be comfortable in a variety of settings and to live righteously with whatever their hand finds to do.
Summer is a wonderful time to take family field trips, whether it be on an extended vacation or just a day trip near your home. It has been our habit to take day trips on a regular basis, particularly when the boys were young. Some families find it helpful to set one Saturday a month aside for family field trips. When we moved to Pennsylvania, one of the first things we did was purchase numerous guide books to the surrounding area. There are a few guide books that are particularly helpful:
Fodor’s produces a number of guides for children
Frommer’s also produces a number for children
The Unofficial Guide to …
Where to Take the Kids in …
Off the Beaten Path in …
Usually the best place to find these is at a local book store. (Sorry, we don’t sell them.) We have found it very helpful to buy guides geared toward children because they give you programs and information that is geared to children. Some of them even have information broken up by the age of the child. Of course the Internet has become extremely helpful, too. Most cities have tourist sites that will tell you all about what they have to offer. It is also a good idea to contact the visitor centers and have them send you information about your interests—that is exactly why they are there.
Another wonderful thing about the Internet is that many places today actually have virtual tours you can use. If you can make yourself familiar with a place before you go, you are certain to have more fun when you are there. Many art museums even offer a virtual tour that includes the paintings in the galleries. Become familiar with a few before you go to build up the excitement for your children. An activity we have really enjoyed is a scavenger hunt. They are really easy to put together, using the virtual tour. Come up with clues about particular things that you want your family to see and find out who can find them first. For example:
Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
1. This plane was used in the attack on Pearl Harbor. It was the primary Japanese Naval Fighter in World War II.
2. Many people consider this the best fighter of World War II. It was originally developed in North America for the British.
3. What year was the first manned Lunar landing?
4. In what year did the first aircraft travel the speed of sound?
5. Name one of the first two aircraft to make a flight around the world.
6. This plane was the first aircraft to fly nonstop coast to coast.
Bonus points are given if you can tell what history card each one goes with.
Doing something like this is not hard to do and only takes a little planning. All children like to be detectives. This will help them to pay closer attention and learn some things along the way. Another source of information that will prove helpful is the Museum Guides in the Veritas Press catalog. It is even fun to let them be detectives before they go. Instead of telling them where you are going, the week before you go, let them wake up to a new clue at breakfast each day and guess where it is. One fun way to do this is to use your old plastic Easter eggs and put a different clue at each person’s plate. Another way to do this is to print an image from the Internet or cut it out of a visitors guide. Glue it onto a piece of construction paper, then cut it apart into puzzle pieces. Each day they get a new piece to the puzzle and try to guess where they are going.
We have found that the reason trips generally do not happen is because people do not plan, or they go somewhere only to realize when they get there that they needed to make a reservation in order to enjoy a particular event. Two years ago we traveled to San Francisco before speaking at a convention. We were so glad that we purchased the guides, as we never would have known about one of the adventures that turned out to be the favorite of the trip. At particular times of the year these enormous elephant seals come to two beaches in California to deliver their young. We signed up for a nature walk through the Ano Nuevo State Park where the elephant seals land. Had we not signed up for this in advance we never would have been able to take the tour, as it books up months in advance.
For some of you we apologize in advance; this may be old hat. But we have had enough people ask us about our family adventures that we decided to share with you how we go about planning a trip. Let me say, we use the same process for a day trip as an extended vacation.
1. Decide where you want to visit. Many times we are looking for places that have something to do with what we studied in history or are going to study the following year.
2. Look through the guide books to see what is in the area you are going to visit and make a list of all the things you would like to do. Remember, if this is an extended vacation, pick out all the different places you want to see, then get out the map and see what order in which you need to see them. For day trips one activity is generally enough. You can always go back.
3. Once you decide on a particular place, go online to see if there is anything special going on that day. Many places have calendars posted so you can see if there is anything you need to book in advance, or even see if there is a reason you do not want to attend on a particular day.
4. Once this is done, plan your upcoming day. This is a great time to plan scavenger hunts and make yourself familiar with the museum.
5. The other thing with children to plan ahead is meal time. We usually enjoy these times to investigate new places to eat. We usually look at the guides to see if there is anything interesting, and as our children have grown up this has changed also. We also enjoy asking local folks about places to eat. We have eaten at many unbelievable places that we wouldn’t have dared to enter without a local recommendation. Chains are fine, but we would much prefer to eat the cuisine of the local area. Or you may want to find the local park to pack a picnic.
Click here for our Free Helps section where you can find a booklet to download and print to make a scrapbook of your family field trips. Children always want to go to the gift shop, and post cards are a fun and interesting thing to collect from their trips. These are great to glue in the scrap book. Allow them to write a brief description about their trip. Another great way to use these is, if you are using The Institute for Excellence in Writing, you can use the postcards for “writing from pictures.”
We hope that this has been helpful and that you all enjoy your summer!
If your phone order in June totals over $200 in merchandise, ask for the "Just Visiting Book Offer" while placing your order for a free copy of Just Visiting: Classical Education and Travel by George Grant (regularly $12.95). Quantities are extremely limited; offer good only while supplies last.
While placing any size phone order in June, ask for the "Mini Travel Book Offer." While supplies last we'll send along a free copy of the Fun on the Go Travel Activity Book.
Q. My child has had no Latin. Where do I begin?
A. If your child is a rising 2nd grader we recommend starting with Prima Latina. If they are in 3rd, 4th or 5th grade we recommend starting with Latina Christiana Level 1. We still recommend Level 1 of Latina Christiana for 6th through 9th grades but suggest completing Level 2 in the same year. Beyond that you'd better call us. The answer will vary on other circumstances.
Q. Wouldn’t it make more sense to learn a modern foreign language like Spanish than Latin?
A. While it is true that Spanish is spoken in many places, we should step back and ask why we study Latin in the first place. There are a whole host of reasons for studying Latin, but the first and foremost one is this—it is a tool of leverage for mastering our own language. Learning Latin will make the student’s vocabulary, grammar and overall language mastery progress at a much accelerated pace. It will also make learning modern foreign languages like Spanish far easier.
Writing and Literature Tutorials from Doug Jones
Our friend Doug Jones, an accomplished writer in his own right, is now teaching his secrets in online classes. He has played a very important role in the editing of numerous Veritas Press books, and now he has begun offering his services in the form of writing and literature classes online. Students at Veritas Academy benefited greatly from Doug’s Zarafa Tutorials. Registrations are now being taken for summer and fall classes. Space is very limited. Click here for more information.
2005 Veritas Academy Teacher Training
July 20–22, 2005, Lancaster, PA. Joel Belz, founder of World Magazine will be the keynote speaker. Brochures have been mailed. If you have not received one and would like one please call 717-556-0690 to request one. Find more information at www.veritasacademy.com.
13th Annual ACCS Conference
June 23-25, 2005, Memphis, TN. Douglas Wilson, George Grant and many others. For further information go to: www.accsedu.org.
- If you are attending or live in the area, you are invited to be our guest at a dessert at 7:00 PM, June 23rd. Douglas Wilson will be signing books, and you will also learn more about the Veritas Press History and Bible Curriculum and the Veritas Press Phonics Museum. It will take place at our vendor booth.
- Plan to attend the Omnibus Workshop at 4:10 PM, June 23 where editors Douglas Wilson and Ty Fischer will explain the curriculum in detail.
Eats, Shoots & Leaves (or is that Eats Shoots & Leaves?) Challenge
In our 2005–2006 catalog on page 57 we offered $10.00 for the first person who told us where the book name came from for the book Eats, Shoots & Leaves without learning it from the book. We have a winner—Elizabeth Flanagan of Virginia! The explanation is on the back of the book as follows:
A panda walks into a café. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and fires two shots in the air.
“Why?” asks the confused waiter, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.
“I’m a panda,” he says at the door. “Look it up.”
The waiter turns to the relevant entry and, sure enough, finds an explanation.
“Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.”
Pentecost Art Contest Winners
Best of Show: Ellie Peterson of Flowery Branch, GA
3-5 Age Group: 1st Mary Claire Long of Gastonia, NC
2nd Caroline Mills of Dallas, TX
3rd Steven Peterson of Flowery Branch, GA
6-9 Age Group: 1st Ellie Peterson of Flowery Branch, GA
2nd David H. Meldrum of Port Royal, PA
3rd Dakota Musso of San Jose, CA
10-12 Age Group: 1st Anna Peterson of Flowery Branch, GA
2nd Asia Hauck of Myrtle Beach, SC
3rd Abbie Jarvis of Columbia, MO
View their winning entries here.
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