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Educating Children Outside of the Classroom

There are no limits to our imagination...

as long as we're able to learn and discover.

as long as we're able to learn and discover.

Most of us, when we think of educating children, think of sending our kids off to school with the latest trendy lunchbox, a new set of clothes, and a new haircut. We hope that our children will be with the best teachers and learn everything easily so that they can end up in a great college or university. This is pretty typical of the average American household, regardless of income. We want our children to be bright and successful in their quest for education. This is part of growing up in America. There are many great schools and teachers in our country. We are fortunate to have these resources, as some countries don’t. But in all reality, we can’t expect the schools to fully educate our children. Education begins at home and should be a part of the family dynamics.

How do we as parents educate our children outside of the classroom? I have written previous articles about education and its importance for a young child. In this particular article, I want to concentrate on other forms of educating our children. Parents cannot have the false assumption that it is only the schools responsibility to educate their child. The greatest teachers will always be the parents, the family, the environment in which the child lives. There are many places and different ways in which to give your child a diverse, rewarding education in conjunction with the school system or home schooling you have elected for your child. Let’s step outside of the classroom and see what we can discover.

The Velveteen Rabbit - Read By Meryl Streep

How to Learn Outside of the Classroom

One of the greatest ways to instill curiosity (which is paramount to learning) is introducing your child to the library. They love books and stories, beautiful, colorful pictures and hopefully, reading to your child is a daily routine. I used to read to my sons before bedtime. They were already bathed, dressed in their pajamas and calmed down from the day, ready for a story. I signed them up for their own library card and let them pick out a certain number of books, of their choice. I also would pick out a few I would enjoy reading to them. (I have listed a few favorites.)

They were then responsible for keeping their books in a safe location and could read them at anytime. They also would accompany the parent returning the books to the library. Most libraries also have a childrens hour with a story, or play. This is a great opportunity to let your kids learn in a different environment with different people.

When you’re reading to your child, pause to ask questions, read with expression and make it come alive. You can also change a word sometimes and see if your child notices. They usually do! Ask them what they like about the story, would they change anything if they were the character. The more you can get your young child to think and consider, and use critical thinking skills, the more you are helping your child’s brain to absorb and process information. Plus, you are helping your child learn how to communicate and express feelings and ideas. Remember, they don’t always have a lot of time to verbally communicate in a school setting.

A Day of Educational Fun!

Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul

Discovery Fun at Museums

Another great way to help educate a child is by visiting museums. In many cities now, they have exclusive childrens museums or sections of museums designed for young people. These are hands on opportunities in which the child is able to participate in activities which make things work, or they can make something with different kinds of art materials and take their project home. The Association of Children's Museumshas a wonderful website listing all of the children’s museums internationally on maps of your respective country.

They are great places where families can have fun and learn together in a non-judgmental manner. It’s all about discovery! There are usually exhibits which can be understood easily in any language. A good idea is to allow your child to set the pace. Don’t try to see everything in a detailed manner. Ask questions that require more than a yes or no answer. Allow your child to take the time to observe and figure things out. Since much of this is hands on, be sure to take some hand sanitizer along to be on the safe side! Most of all, have fun and make sure you’re not hungry before your adventure

What do you hear?

What do you hear?

Lifestyle of the Family

Educating our children should be part of our lifestyle as a family. There are areas in every part of the country where a mini- day trip or an afternoon outing can be both fun and educational. Take a hike at a park with or without a guided tour. The park office often has literature and exhibits of types of trees, plants, wildlife that may be seen in the park. A zoo is a favorite destination for children of all ages. Shelling at a beach can be a learning experience. Go online before your trip and find some information with pictures of different kinds of shells and print it out and take with you. Have your child help to identify the shells by matching to the photos or if older, he can read about the type of shells found. Fall festivals in farm areas are a great way to learn about animals, produce grown on the land.

Even taking a walk together can be a great time to allow your child to talk about anything. A glance up at the sky, observing the different kinds of clouds, watching and listening to the birds flying overhead, feeling the temperature outside; everything we see, hear and feel can be a source of conversation that often leads to better understanding of how nature works together. Being with your child in a relaxed, natural setting can invite communication that will bring you closer together and gives opportunity for the child to see his parents as more than authority figures or providers.

Discover the night sky

Simple Suggestions for Education Outside of the Classroom

  • Cooking together, following recipes
  • Extra curricular sports/dance programs ( best to limit this to ONE that your child chooses) don’t make the mistake of filling up each afternoon!
  • Art materials
  • Construction/building materials like blocks and legos
  • Experiment with simple science activities, look through a telescope
  • Children's book section at the larger chain bookstores (check for activity times also)
  • Trip to the local fire station
  • Family history, looking at old photo albums together
  • Let your child dictate a made up story and record it on video or an older child can write his own story.
  • Help a younger child to make simple books with construction paper, pictures and a glue stick. Secure together with clasps or yarn.
  • Let your child have his own camera and take his own pictures
  • Listen to different kinds of music in your home and learn a few folk songs/dances
  • Be sure to allow your child quality free time

Children have great imaginations and encouraging them to use and expand their minds by learning and actively participating in life helps to give them a well- rounded real life education both in and outside of the classroom. I hope this article has helped give some new ideas, and feel free to share it with others.   Education is the key to unlock the doors to life.

Additional Education Articles by rebekahELLE

Why Preschool Education Is Important For Your Child

Finding the Right Preschool For Your Child

What Are the Best Websites For Preschool Teachers

Teaching Values and Respect to a Young Child

One More Thought

Your older children benefit as well from these suggestions. Although they tend to break away and form much needed independence, one can enjoy educational times with an older child. Recently my youngest son, who is in his early twenties, and myself went to a park on the water with a pier and watched the birds, enjoyed observing a pelican swimming with the wind, observed the differences of the water at low tide. Then we followed an elevated wooden path into the woods that ended up towards the shoreline. It gave us a wonderful chance to enjoy nature together.

Thank you for reading and please feel free to leave a comment.

Kathryn L Hill from LA on July 30, 2012:

Hello... I too, agree!

Mandeeadair from California on May 25, 2012:

This was such a fantastic, informative hub! Thank you. Very well written and like I said informative. Sometimes we forget how imperative it is for our children to learn from us. Thank you for the reminder :)!

rebekahELLE (author) from Tampa Bay on May 01, 2012:

Thanks gm. I appreciate your comment. There are so many ways to learn outside of the classroom, and I see more families taking these opportunities to help educate their children.

I wish somehow I could convey the importance of learning outside of the classroom. It starts the moment a baby arrives into our lives. And yes, sadly, there are still too many parents who think the role of education is left up to the teachers and schools only. The world truly is our classroom.

Grace Marguerite Williams from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York on May 01, 2012:

This hub should be required reading and be selected hub of the year. Children who are exposed to learning and educational activities outside the classroom also do better academically. They also appreciate and enjoy learning since it is incorporated into daily living and life situations. However, many parents believe that they are not responsible for their children's education and that their children's education is the teacher's responsibility! In essence, many parents purport that they are interested in their children's education but they only exert the minimum effort towards their children's education to say the least!

jean2011 from Canada on August 04, 2011:

Great hub! Ilike it, I share some of your views.

Cindy Vine from Cape Town on August 28, 2010:

Outdoor education is great as well, especially with kids addicted to computers and game consoles as they are now. they still need to get out and experience the environment.

Sandy Mertens from Wisconsin, USA on August 27, 2010:

Great information on education.

rebekahELLE (author) from Tampa Bay on April 26, 2010:

hi neil, thanks for the comments! nice to see you here.

thank you kwame! I think it's important to get kids outside learning in our biggest classroom! I'm glad you feel that way too. :)

KwameG from MS on April 26, 2010:

Really Great hub and information, I couldn't have said it better myself, and I've tried.:-) Keep up the good work.

George Poe from United Kingdom on April 17, 2010:

Good hub.

George Poe from United Kingdom on April 01, 2010:

Nice work. Thanks for sharing..

myownworld from uk on January 26, 2010:

Great ideas....I have two small children, so I'm always interested in stuff like this. Looking at albums with your children ad occasionally cooking together is such joy! Wonderful advice...

rebekahELLE (author) from Tampa Bay on December 17, 2009:

Thanks Shalini, Duchess and RedElk for the great comments.

@Shalini, yes, there is so much we can do with them and far more fun and rewarding than buying them too much 'stuff'~

@Duchess, I look forward also to that time when I am a grandparent, and I agree, Red Elk has some wonderful ideas.

@Red Elk, thanks so much for taking the time to contribute here, great ideas.

red elk on December 07, 2009:

I Love Kids. WALKING IMAGINATION. As a parent u can watch THEM n Learn. Takes u back to when u / we were kids. Back out of the 'rat race' n into walking barefoot in the grass. ( :

Now Xmas is soon 2 b. Kids 2day looking 4 $$ Presents that PLAY THEMSELVES. What REAL fun is THAT!??

Go to a 7-11 etc. n get wooden coffie Stir Sticks...(Many over time)) n rubber band um into a bundel. Get STRAWS n ditto. Free IMAGINATION Gifts. "Stocking Stuffers" filled with wonder. Tell um "see what U can make with um"...n soon they'll have lil "log Cabibs" , Boats , Etc..

Buy Clear Plastic Tubing (the typ used on fish tank airiatores)) n a couple of Strawberry Kool Aid packits.

About 2 to 2 1/2 feet of tubeing. Copst about 6 CENTS a ft.! Make up a glass of RED "BLOOD" n soon those tubes will b "snaked" around a litle arm n sucked from glass..."LOOK GRAMPA (MOM)...BLOOD!"

BALLONS r a BALL to a child. Show THEM how to make "rockets" n Twisted Animals / etc. n be a HERO in their little eyes.

A simpel "sq." of paper N UR INSTRUCTIONS n soon: PAPER AIRPLANES! Add Crayons n...well, u get the 'idia'. Tic Tac To - Hangman - Dot-to-dot Aho?

We have many homeless...with CHILDREN. MUCH can be had / made for FREE. use YOUR' Imagination! LOOK ABOUT YOU. PAST the Pricy "toys". Think (AGAIN) "Outside the box".

Bad as this time is, it CAN b a GOOD time as well...IF U OPEN Y O U R IMAGINATION. Lean to JOIN THE KIDS...BECOME ONE AGAIN!


Duchess OBlunt on December 06, 2009:

Great cover of the HubMob topic this week rebekahELLE. I really liked Red Elk's additional suggestions as well. I will have to keep some of these suggestions and ideas in mind for when the grandchildren arrive.

Shalini Kagal from India on December 06, 2009:

Wonderful advice! As parents, we can do so much, make their lives so much fun - if only we try a little bit. Really great ideas there, thank you!

rebekahELLE (author) from Tampa Bay on December 06, 2009:

thank you Maita, always a pleasure to see you visiting and leaving nice comments! you're an inspiration. :)

@greensnob, thank you for stopping by. I love childrens stories and graphics and find them to be very entertaining and thought provoking. especially eric carle, his artwork alone is a visual treat for any age and the story is captivating! the father loved his child so much to fulfill even her imaginative cravings!

greensnob on December 06, 2009:

Great advice to parents that they are the primary teachers! Love the Papa Get the Moon video. I wish my daughter were still at that imaginary age to enjoy it. My art students would love the graphics, however.

prettydarkhorse from US on December 05, 2009:

Hi Ms. Rebekahelle, I agree with all of the things you have discussed here. The museums and library are a good source for children to learn, and of course as you said we have the parks, wildlife and the zoo to enrich their knowledge about their environment.

Excellent hub! I hope many can read this specially those who have small children and those who are plannign to have children.

Thanks so much for your comment in my 100th hub, Have a good day! Maita

rebekahELLE (author) from Tampa Bay on December 05, 2009:

RedElk, thank you for sharing ways to learn from nature. I so agree, nature is every ones most wonderful teacher. Many lessons from observing, touching, listening. :)

Himitsu, always nice to see your comments. thank you for sharing and showing us that fantastic smile! :)

Himitsu Shugisha on December 05, 2009:

Wonderful informaton as usual. I am a firm believer that a child's education begins at home.

Red Elk on December 05, 2009:

Good advice. May I add to It? A NA (inidian) "way"?

STUDY NATURE. Ever SEE sand? i mean REALY LOOK at it? FILLED with color. Tiny X Big stones now all one, ground to near dust. Blues / Greens / Whites / Etc..

Pour a hadfull from ur hand n use the sun as a back-rnd. LOOK! and be ASTONDED at the Nature u walk on. REALY SEE it! BU&ITYFULL!

Now, what can be MADE with it?

Did u know its a BONDING AGENT to MUD n Clay? Mixed togather u can BUILD A HOUSE! "Mud Bricks" / Tamped Earth.

"Prick" their intrust....and ur OWN. STUDY NATURE!

Go to ur yrd.. Mark a 1 ft. area to watch. Lay in the sun n STUDY the midred insects. LITTLE Guys. Small as they r, they THINK. BRAINS! To hunt , to hide , to find a mate, to HELP OUR ECOLIGY. Without them; man will not exist. Then shovel to the grasses roots. SEE THE DIRT LIVERS. Then a ft deeper, SEE the "Big Guys". Worms , voles , etc. TUNNEL MAKERS the help AIRIATE the green above. WATERWAYS Making to water the "above". STUDY n LEARN!

See ur Birds / Squirrels / Etc.. HOW DO THEY SERVIVE? Winter colds / Summers heats. Can U "see" n imulate? STUDY NATURE! BIG n SMALL, n LEARN!

U dont need a PC. Electronic Games. $$ out of pocket. All u need to "entertaine" is SLOW DOWN N OBSERVE! re

rebekahELLE (author) from Tampa Bay on December 03, 2009:

There you go Lotus! have fun living life!! thank you for stopping by and taking time to comment.

Veronica, thank you and nice to hear you're so engaged with your childrens learning. it does inspire us, doesn't it? some of the most profound questions I've ever pondered were asked by young children!

Veronica Allen from Georgia on December 03, 2009:

These are great suggestions rebekaELLE. I've tried several of them and found them to be extremely successful. It has always been my goal to help my children learn something new everyday, by making it fun and entertaining. As a result, I have found that my own desire and love of learning has increased tenfold.

Hillary from Atlanta, GA on December 03, 2009:

Wonderful information! I don't have children, but I think I'd like to do everything you suggested myself!

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