Honestly, life has been so different and chaotic this year that it felt that the teens didn’t get much “real” homeschooling done.
Maybe I felt this way because they’ve had to be so independent with their lessons. Most of their materials have been video lessons from Khan Academy and Thinkwell and their “in person” teachers (like tutors) have been people other than me.
So in one of those moments of homeschooling despair (you know, that “my children would be better educated weaving baskets in a dark cave” feeling) I sat down and wrote out everything we’ve done. Everything. The things we’ve seen, the types of conversations we’ve had, the people we’ve encountered, and in reverse I’ve designed a South East Asia Study Abroad Program. I think this method of reverse-planning record keeping would work for anyone experiencing a chaotic year, a move, a new baby, an illness. Kids learn so much just from living life especially in those abnormal times. If you’re going to do this, wait until the chaos is over before you try to make time (and mental energy!) to write it all down.
Asia Adventure a year long study abroad program:
Social Studies: The Culture of South East Asia
Immersion study- life in Thailand
Field trips to study cultural differences (including people, traditional food, churches, infrastructure, laws):
Assignments- communicate through different media the experiences you’ve had in these countries, and how the cultures differ from each other.
What this looked like in practice: We live in Thailand, you can’t escape the cultural differences or fail to comment on them when talking to grandparents and writing to friends. Some of the differences are great, some are more challenging. Just learning to live with people who have different beliefs, morals and language is an education. The girls have had opportunities here that they’d never get in North America; a Thai Buddhist walked them through the Songkran rituals, they’ve visited temples and palaces, they’ve ridden a train across Thailand, they’ve helped host a wedding, learned to cook Thai food, and they even had the opportunity to learn and perform a traditional Thai dance. The side trips were all about a week in duration. The girls had the opportunity to go into people’s homes, meet locals, ride transit systems and partake in traditional food. They road the amazing subway system in Japan and got to compare that to the muddy streets of a Burmese border town.
History- Vietnam War:
Field trip to Vietnam
Hoa Lo Prison (Hanoi Hilton)
Ho Chi Min’s mausoleum
Ho Chi Min’s house
Tour with biography of Ho Chi Min
Watch – Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, Hanoi Hilton and documentaries.
What this looked like in practice: Scott took a course in college on the history of the Vietnam war so he actually designed this trip and the supplemental movie watching. We have a few friends that are Veterans, and we’ve worked with Vietnam war vets in our homeless ministry in the USA so the girls are familiar with the many different American views and opinions on the war. It was interesting to see it from the point of view of the Vietnamese. We got a personalized tour of Ho Chi Minh’s house and a detailed account of his life from the point of view of a young Vietnamese girl who admired Ho Chi Minh so much that she was on the verge of tears several times during her tour. After the tour we discussed Ho Chi Minh, the fact that he was reputed to love children and often hosted children’s parties but never married or had his own children “because of his devotion to the revolution”. We also discussed that he lived in a small 2 room house even though he could have had the French Governor’s palace. Our family was divided with some thinking that Ho Chi Minh might be okay, despite all the bad press in America, and some thinking that he was a very savvy politician and used things like children’s parties and a small house to gain public opinion.
The visit to Hoa Lo prison also showed the war from the point of view of the Vietnamese with most of the museum dedicated to the captivity of Vietnamese rebels by the French colonists. The one small section for the American prisoners had TV screens playing the propaganda films of Christmas Dinner and the POW’s release that are depicted in the movie “Hanoi Hilton.”
Science – South East Asia Ecology
Field trips to:
Pukhet Including Pukhet Aquarium
Ha Long Bay Vietnam
Walking tour of Burma
Observe the land forms, flora and wildlife. Discuss the effects of the human population particularly in areas with lax environmental controls. Discuss what could be done to improve the situation.
What this looked like in practice: South East Asia is the most beautiful place I’ve been, but it has horrible environmental problems. Environmental problems are not news to someone who has made it all the way to 15, but the girls were really able to see the impact we humans have on our planet. They were told that no one could go swimming in the river in Sri Lanka or their clothes would fall apart from the textile chemicals. They saw beautiful white sand beaches full of garbage all over South East Asia, and these situations caused discussion. Lots of discussion.
Language – Thai Language studies:
Formal studies, speaking, reading and writing, and immersive practice.
What this looked like in practice: We signed the girls up for formal Thai lessons when we first moved here. These were a great foundation for communicating with the people around them and because of them and the practice they’ve had out in the world, they’re now beyond the simple tasks of ordering food and directing a taxi driver and can actually have conversations with real Thai people.
Work Study – Volunteer at Antique Cafe:
Learn to do book keeping
Make and invent espresso based drinks
Design marketing campaigns
Participate in Outreach to transgender sex workers
What this looked like in practice: The girls volunteer occasionally at a ministry that operates a cafe to train trans-gender (lady boy) sex workers in a new career. The day to day of this is really just forming relationships and learning alongside the cafe’s students. I may not have even included it if I hadn’t heard them tell someone else about it and realized how it’s shaped their views of life, ministry, Christianity and missions.
Physical Education – Muay Thai
Muay Thai boxing twice a week.
What this looked like in practice: We have an awesome friend who is a professional Muay Thai Boxer and he’s been able to come to our house to train the three older kids in the fundamentals of Muay Thai. It’s a great addition to the other martial arts they’ve been studying and I believe they’ll continue to pursue it in America.
I’ve really enjoyed reading the ABC’s of homeschooling posts by Dawn at The Momma Knows and everyone who links up with her. This is my very first time participating!! Please take some time to visit the other bloggers linked up. I’ve gained so much insight and so many new fun ideas from them and I’d hate for you to miss out.