We have been homeschooling for 13 years now in Denmark’s capital – Copenhagen. Recently we moved out into the countryside. This has made me want to write a piece on, how where you are situated, when you Home School, affects your children’s learning.
Generally I would say that it doesn’t matter where you are located, it depends on your set of mind, how well your home school works. But your location does give you different opportunities. It is how open and how well, you are able to grasp these opportunities that matters.
When you Home School in the city, you often have theaters, libraries, playgrounds, other Home Schoolers, spare-time activities and museums near by.
When you live in the country you have nature near by, more space for creative projects, opportunities to keep animals, less distractions and you can be self-sufficient. Often people around you have more time to talk to you and you can develop close relationships with you neighbors.
Generally learning and Home Schooling is all about grasping the opportunities that come along in life. Keeping a positive outlook and trying to get the best out of life. Remembering that learning is not just for children aged a specific age – but that you learn from the day you are born until the day that you leave this earth. Hopefully. What gives life meaning is all the time learning and understanding new about being alive and what it is all about. Moving a bit around is refreshing and can renew your understanding of life.
One of our children has wanted to a become a dentist, since she was 6 years old. The interest has continued until now, where she is 13 years old. Our dentist had promised us that when she was old enough, she could come and do a work placement with them for a week.
So when she turned 13, she felt ready to try it out. She had already for many years gone with her mum to the dentist there to sit next to her and see the dentist work on her teeth. She had also read every book on teeth we could find for her. So she was ready.
The employees were very nice to her and she was involved in the treatments of the patient all through the day. She sat next to the operating dentist, if the patient allowed it, and most did.
The main thing she found out, was that being a dentist was much more interesting than she had emagined. She thought it would be much of the same work, but she experienced that there was many different jobs and treatments.
So, she even more want’s to become a dentist now after the work placement.
A great way to learn, is in the real world, with real jobs and real people.
One of our children would like to become a vet. She is now 12 years old and just couldn’t wait any longer to try and get a placement. So she called around herself to a few vets near by and got a few rejections, but it all payed off – she got an offer of a one week placement as a vet. It was even a place really close by.
So she started her placement and found out a lot about what being a vet really is about, and is even more determined now to become one.
The employees really took her under their wings and she was allowed to take place in most of the work. She stood by in operations and even in a dissection of a cat with several deformeties, that resulted in it being put down. She found that most fascinating of all the things, she experienced that week.
Homeschooling makes work placement much more flexible, as you can have as many as you would like during the year and can step in when it suits a company, and are not restricted by school schedules. You can take part in real life learning.
We like to learn hands on, with real life events. Everything just makes so much more sence that way. That kind of learning also sticks in your mind.
We have a girl who is very fond of animals. Not just the fluffy caretaker way, but she also wants to see what is inside them, know how they function and what they eat. She wants to become a vet.
So we decided to get some chicken. She wanted to have them from small, so she could watch them grow and develop. We have had them for around 5 months now and it turned out that the 5 hens we bought, was actually 3 hens and 2 roosters. Well, we got them to see the miracle of them laying eggs, se we had to reconsider what to do with the 2 rooster.
As the two roosters grew up, they started to fight each other and chase the children around, so they didn’t dare go out in the garden anymore, as they were afraid of their beaks.
Especially one of them was aggressive. So we decided to kill it and eat it. We watched a lot of you tube to learn from others and set a plan for the butchering. We talked to people who we knew had experience with it and learned.
Well, today we were ready and got on with it. We started out early in the morning and got hold of him and chopped his head off. We then put him in the heated water to get the feathers loosened. Two of our kids removed the feathers and after I took out the guts and we all examined them. The children wanted to measure the intestines to see how long they were.
We then cooked the chicken immediately and ate it. Butchering the chicken ourselves, was brave of all of us, and natural. It feelt really good being that close to nature and taking responsibility for our own food. We all need to have our hands on learning more about nature in our world.
We have been working with physics and chemistry from a system called “Fysikemi” but they got boring when we got to book number 3 out of 6 books. Then we got a charge from the library for forgetting to bring back the books and decided to pay and give the books back for good.
Then we could start over with inspirational materials. Our daughter chose to study DNA and RNA and make a presentation for the rest of us. She chose to work with biology instead of physics and chemistry today. That is the freedom you have when you are homeschooled. You can see it here:
How does spare time activities work together with home schooling? Fine, actually. We see it as a kind of out-sourcing of areas, that we are not capable of teaching in ourselves. Areas that interest our kids.
Through the years, we have attended many different spare time activities. Mostly, a new activity has come around like this:”Mum, what is a scout?” (Watching a movie with scouts appearing in the story). “Mum, I want to be one”. Ok, so we started looking around, to see if we had any scout groups, near by. Non of us had ever been a scout, so we had no idea either, what it was going to be about. We then found a new concept starting, where you could attend a scout group with your family, even though, you were only 1 year old. That meant we could be scouts together as a family (our kids were 5, 2 and 1 year old at that time). That appealed to us. So we ended up being scouts for 5 years. We learned that being a scout involved learning about nature and being able to set up a fire and cook lots of food over the fire. Great fun. Loads of teamwork building stuff out of wood and learning how to use a knife and an ax. Learning morse signals has been very popular here too.
Another time, one of our children said:”I want to dance ballet!” When she had said it a few times, we started to ask into why she wanted to dance ballet. She was motivated by a friend who danced ballet and she had seen her dance. So we found a class that seemed good and she enrolled. That is 4 years ago now, and she is still very fond of dancing ballet.
One of our children have been fond of writing since she was 6 years old and have practiced and practiced on her own. When writing classes have popped up around us, she has taken part. Some has been good others not so fantastic. But it has been a learning process.
Another child has taken part in Break Dance classes.
Our oldest child has made her own writing group with another aspiring author, which she meets up with regularly to work together and exchange ideas and support each other.
One day two of our kids came to me and said:”We have found a drama school and we want to try to audition”. So I contacted the school and got them set up for auditions. It was fun for them to try, and one got in and the other child found out it was not for her to act.
We have also made use of the free offer of evening classes we have in Denmark, when the children are in 7th to 10th grade. One of our children have attended dance classes in musical dance and ended up taking part in a show. She also took part in an arts class and a physics and chemistry class through this free offer.
Recently, we have enrolled in karate classes where we can train together across all age groups and levels. Just in the homeschool spirit.
We like to challenge ourselves with new projects. Challenge ourselves with stuff we are scared of, or put off, because it could be hard and uncomfortable.
Sleeping in shelters and going camping is new to us and has taken us a bit of time to get into. When we go into new areas we havn’t explored before, we do research. Loads of research.
We also find learning about geography from books and media hard to remember. It doesn’t really stick. What we have found, is that if we go somewhere it is easier for us to remember geographical locations. That can be an expensive way to learn 🙂 But we set ourselves affordable projects.
For many years we have wanted to visit Jutland, especially the Northern part. There is so much unique nature to see there, which we wanted to show the children.
As we did not have much money, we decided to sleep in shelters and go camping in out tents.
The first night we slept in a shelter in Moesgaard Forest close to Århus. We found out that there often is very far to walk to the shelters with all your stuff. So we got free exercise. We had a lovely evening with fire and singing. When the night came, we were presented with extreme weather experiences with lightning, thunder and massive rain. We are still happy to have survived.
We also had the opportunity to meet up with 2 other Home Schooling Families from Jutland at the museum. The museum has a lot of interactive elements in the exhibitions, which is a great way to involve you in the different time periods.
The next day we decided to stay at a Campsite, we had visited last year, and knew they had a great pool. During the day we visited “Den Gamle By i Århus” which is a large area where you can visit different time periods in Danish history: https://www.dengamleby.dk/en/den-gamle-by/
We then drove to Skagen. On the way we stopped at the shelter and free camping site that we had read about. But the weather was very wild and rainy so we started to talk about spending a bit to rent a cabin. We walked out to the shelter and it was a beautiful place and free (not so strange in that weather 🙂 but another thunder and lightning weather was on the way and the majority vote in the family was towards renting a cabin at a campsite. The main complaint was that we would have to walk 4 km in rain out to the shelter. So we drove around a few campsites until we found a free cabin. What luxury! A roof over our heards. Come thunder and lightning, we were ready.
After having found accommodation we drove to Skagen Museum and saw the Krøyer exhibition and the main exhibition about the Danish Skagen painters.
We then decided to go full spending, and went out to eat at a traditional fish restaurant at Skagen Harbour. The kids said:”Now we have tried the top and the bottom of living”.
To save money, we decided the next 2 days to move into our tents again, but to stay at the same campsite. Because they had both an outdoor and an indoor pool 🙂 The children were hooked on the place.
From there we had a quick drive to Råbjerg Mile. A large area with sand, which moves 15 meters towards the North-East every year.
Then we drove to see the sanded down church. We climbed the tower. We then tried to emagine the 20 meter church below the ground.
Then on to see the Rugbjerg Knude Fyr, which is just about to slide into the ocean and disappear. But they will try to make an attempt to move it further into the land.
We then drove to Lønstrup to visit another friend and Home Schooler. Lovely evening with dinner, talk and play. The drive back to our campsite presented us with a magical natural phenomenon. There was sea fog all over. It looked so beautiful.
When we got back to the tent our air mattresses had punctured and we had to sleep straight on the ground. Our backs really got straightened out 🙂
The next day, we tried to repair our air mattresses, but no luck, so had to go buy new ones. We then drove to Grenen and spoiled ourselves with a tractor drive out there. Some of us had a swim in the two oceans – Skagerak and Kattegat. The weather was lovely that day.
Our oldest daughter had brought her physics book on the holiday, so we could work a bit with it in the evenings. Today she read about center of gravity, torque and force times arm. We explored some of it by doing gymnastics.
We then had a very rainy night and had to pack some very wet tents and other wet stuff together in the car. Then we set off towards our final goal – Farmfun at Ålbæk. We had booked a Junglehut for 1 night. We also met up with 2 more Home School families there. Farmfun is a great place with a mix of farm animals but also many exotic animals. You can got close to many of the animals and the animals are really calm and thriving. There is also obstacle courses and labyrints. You can also play in the barns and try a cable car. Frankly, despite the rain, it was a wonderful place.
Farmfun was a wonderful free place to be. To sleep in the Jungle Cabins was a magical adventure. Imagine sleeping in a Tree House right above an Emu, having all the animals around you, with all their special sounds and smells. When we opened the door to our cabin in the morning, 3 cats stormed into our cabin and had a party. When we got back home we really missed the animals and the spirit of Farmfun.
On this trip we confronted a lot of limits we had (mostly the mother, the kids and the husband are dead cool on that behalf 🙂 We survived heavy thunder, lightning and rain. Digged a toilet in the forest and survived using it 🙂 set up the tents and took them down most days, moved from one place to another every day, slept in a different bed every night, slepts without a mattress. Swam in the ocean without having brought a towel or swimsuit. We feel we have gained courage and confidence.
2 months ago we found some moldy bread in the kitchen. Great opportunity to make it grow. Immediately we found a name for it – Bob. So Bob was put into a plastic bag and given a place to live in our kitchen, where he could develop in peace and in a non stressful environment. So we have been looking at him once in a while the past 2 months. This is what he looks like now.