Friday, April 5, 2013

Homeschooling in Fort Wayne - car-free style!

Waiting for the bus after being at Eagle Marsh in March.

A thread in a homeschool group got me thinking about something I've meant to do for a while: post about what we do activity-wise as a homeschooling family.   This year my son has: played soccer, taken an 8 week personal safety class, gone to a weekly art classes and theater drama classes,  been part of an ongoing writing workshop, gone to regular homeschool science classes/labs, scouts,religious education, kids choir, volunteered at a local nature area, book clubs,  semi-monthly Field Trip Friday program at the library.  None of those activities has involved a car.   Living in a city that has a large,vibrant homeschool community certainly helps!  Living in proximity to the downtown, and a bus line doesn't hurt either! 

This summer he is signed up for the usual array of sports and day camps, and once again we will tackle them car-free, by bike and bus.   Like many homeschoolers we are frequently asked the question - when are you ever actually at home?!  For all the use we make of community resources, there is still plenty of learning going on at home. And that is one place you most certainly don't need a car to arrive at!

The trips often do take more time than driving in the car would, but there are some positive trade-offs we've found too.  Trips that are within a mile to mile and a half are generally made on foot, or bike.  We get lots more exercise (without having to pay the Y) and more time to do the kind of talking that walking often brings about. Observations about activity in the neighborhood have led to new topics to study.  Bus trips have been a great motivator for keeping to a schedule.  You want to go to art class? Well we have to leave in ten minutes or miss the bus, and that means missing art. That means you need to find your shoes, and put on your coat now!  When riding on the bus, I sit next to my son, not in the front seat like his chauffeur.  Makes talking to him, not at him much easier (and conversations a lot more fun.)

John Wesley once famously said "The world is my parish."  As homeschoolers we have always believed that the whole community is our classroom.  Walking and biking through it, and sharing the bus with a wide array of people from the community brings that home in many different ways that seeing our town through the rolled-up windows of our car never did.

There is a level of mindfulness that is required that I didn't have to practice when I drove everyday.  Sometimes I don't want to be mindful, I just want the convenience of motorized transportation in my driveway.  Those are the times my faith kicks in.  For our family becoming car-free was an act of faith as much as anything else.  We are practicing Christians. We believe this good earth was God's act of Creation, and that we humans are entrusted with its care.  For us, living lightly on the earth is something positive we can do.

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