4.16.2011

Never Say Never: "Carschooling"

It's not that I had anything against the idea. In fact, I've known people who successfully "carschool" as a long-term, regular part of their children's home education experience. And there's even a book devoted to the topic. I just never thought I'd have to do it.

But then my eight-year old sustained a head and neck injury and - after three weeks of hoping it would heal on its own - we determined a chiropractor was in order.

Now, my city is home to dozens of such doctors - most of whom are surely very competent. But I only felt comfortable going to The Wellness Way, a clinic that came highly recommended by several friends.

The city has no major traffic issues. In fact, I can get most places I frequent in 10 minutes or less. And, within the metro area, it only takes about 30 minutes to drive from the farthest point on the east side to the farthest point on the west - not a big deal at all for occasional trips. But chiropractors require multiple weekly visits - three a week for Abigail so far - and, as "luck" would have it, The Wellness Way is 20 minutes from here.

Forty minutes of drive-time three days a week, in addition to time in the office, adds up - to at least three hours a week, in fact. And that amounts to 60% of one normal study day for us. In other words, that's a lot of lost time.

Thus, I decided to try carschooling for the time being.

And so far it's worked pretty well. On a typical day at home, I have my girls start their formal learning time with a "reciprocal review" of spelling words and math facts while I do K4 with Anna, the little one for whom I babysit. So I've turned those tasks into carschooling jobs on our chiropractor days. And, when they got a note-drilling assignment this week from their piano teacher, I added that task, too.

I even tried it for a longer trip last Monday when I had an appointment in a city an hour from here. In the past, I've hired a babysitter for situations like that - which has essentially meant an entire day of bookwork lost - but this time I decided to take the girls with me to save money. And I realized we had the added benefit of being able to get some school done in the process.

They did their "reciprocal review" tasks - 20 spelling words and 20 math facts each instead of the usual 10 - and a math page, too. Then we popped in some classical music CDs since we'd been studying Russia and (by design) I'd read to them about Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky over breakfast. They later had playtime on the drive and watched a movie for fun during my appointment (actually, it was the animated movie Anastasia, a fictionalized account of Czar Nicholas' "lost" daughter...so it was at least partly content-related). But it eased my mind that they did something obviously "productive" during all that car time.

I really do believe that all of life is learning - so we needn't have our kids constantly doing traditional academic tasks to facilitate cognitive growth. However, because of the inordinate amount of time we've had to spend on "errands" in the last few weeks (and for the foreseeable future), this idea of carschooling has been a real blessing.

I won't require it every time we get in the car - and when we're done with the chiropractor, we'll generally be done with carschooling while in town. But, whether some flashcard drill, a bit of reading or math, or even a book on CD, I do think we'll institute it on long trips in the future. After all, since all of life is learning, some of the formal stuff might as well happen in the car!

4 comments:

Lisa said...

What a great way to redeem the time. We've ended up doing something similar before, and while it's not the easiest way to do things, it works quite well when you need it.

By the way, next school year we are starting My Father's World and Math-U-See for the first time. Any suggestions you might have would be appreciated!

Lisa said...

The girls look like they didn't mind carschool one bit! We occassionally do the same thing, particurlarly when we have doctor appointements that require driving more than 15 minutes each way and when we go on field trips with a longer drive. That's what I call being resourceful with your time!

It's great catching up with you. :)

Melanie said...

That is great and they are at a good age to do that with!

Thanks for stopping by my blog and your sweet comment encouraged me so. I really needed it!

Blessings!
Melanie

Stacie said...

I never knew there was such a phrase as car schooling. But I do it all the time.

After I take my daughters to school (which will be over soon, then I can begin homeschooling in the fall-YEAH!), my son has swimming lessons once per week. It doesn't make sense to go home and then right back out to get to the lesson.

However, we arrive about 20 minutes early. During that time, we sit in the parking lot and review phonics and practice reading. He even looks forward to it! Works great.

Take care, Tina.
Happy Palm Sunday!

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