Over half of families involved in Trail Life USA are involved in homeschooling! A local Troop is a great built-in community for boys and dads to join mom and get involved in intentional, hands-on education. The Trail Life elementary school Woodlands Trail program was influenced heavily by homeschool moms eager to add adventure to learning and engage their husbands in the homeschool experience. Within a Trail Life Troop, you will find a community of parents who understand that boys learn best through action, and that homeschooling doesn’t need to stay within the boundaries of conventional learning or the four walls of a schoolroom.
A Trail Life homeschool community provides a practical way to network with other parents, engage dads, and add adventure to your schedule. Whether you’re new to homeschooling or a seasoned pro, weekly Trail Life meetings, handbook resources, and monthly "Hit the Trail" adventures provide a structured way to add hands-on learning experiences to your daily lessons. Children -- especially boys -- have a ton of energy. What’s the best use of that energy? Get them outside or into a fun activity. Take the classroom beyond the walls, and let them experience the world around them first-hand, rather than just reading about it. Hands-on learning is a way to help students learn faster and retain the information longer. Plus, it lets boys burn off some of that exuberant energy.
Let’s explore a few simple ways to add adventure to your homeschool. Your boys can even earn some badges along the way.
6 Ways to Add Adventure to Your Homeschool
1. Go Hiking or Rock Climbing.
Getting out in nature brings science and biology up close. Any encounter outdoors can be turned into an organic, hands-on learning experience. Few boys can be outside long before they collect a pocket full of rocks, get curious about a lizard, or find a water puddle to play in.
- Geology to learn the types of rocks on your hike or that you’re climbing
- Botany to find out what plants are native to the area, and which should be protected
- Herpetology to identify those slithering creatures your son wants to stick in his pockets
- Meteorology to make sure you don’t get caught in bad weather
- Astronomy if you decide to go on a night hike
Even a local park will have items of interest that can be incorporated into a lesson while you walk.
- History to learn more about the area you’re visiting.
- Anthropology if the park is known for fossils or artifacts.
- Climb On!
2. Take field trips to museums or historical locations near your home or further away.
Head to a museum or historical site and make the trip an adventure. Introduce your boys to the people who helped found the location where they live. Take a tour of a battlefield, an old house or a business. Let your boys engage the caretaker or owner in conversation. These knowledgeable elders can share first-hand knowledge of the history of the place and how it changed over time.
- Local history to learn more about your hometown or community.
- History of the area where you traveled.
- Archaeology to discover artifacts or fossils
- Founders and Framers
- Local History
- My State
- Military Heritage
- Muzzle Loading
- Native Americans
- World Heritage
3. Go fishing or visit a local aquarium
What better way to discuss biology than out in nature? A fishing trip makes for a great science lesson. Bonus points if you take a boat to your destination. After catching or seeing fish, students can investigate them up close and personal and observe the area where the fish live.
- Biology of fish and other aquatic creatures, plus their habitats and feeding habits.
- Ecology to explore the web of life and the impact of human activity.
- Boating Safety
4. Head out on a camping trip
Camping offers plenty of opportunity for lessons, including real-life application of outdoor skills such as
- Knot tying
- Fire building
- Shelter building
- And more
Plus, your boys will encounter wildlife, trees, and plants that can open up many avenues of discussion. And while you are visiting the great outdoors, use the opportunity to demonstrate how we are stewards of Earth.
- Biology and botany to investigate the wilderness environment
- Astronomy to investigate the skies overnight
- Geography to discover how the landforms of the area were created.
- Environmental Stewardship
- Survival Skills
5. Head to your backyard or common area
Adventure awaits just outside your home. Marvel at the wonders around you! Need a few ideas for just-outside adventures?
- Offer up building plans to see if your son would like to craft a birdhouse or a doghouse.
- Feed the birds and keep a journal of all the different species that visit.
- Study the soil and insects. Learn about the composition of the soil under your feet.
- Plant a garden or a tree and investigate the life cycle of plants.
- Set up a camera to capture slow motion or stop-motion videos of plants or animals.
- Work together on your lawn mower or edger to get it set for spring or ready for winter storage.
When students are engaged in a hands-on activity, they often don’t realize they’re learning.
- Math to calculate construction angles and cuts or number of days before the first frost.
- Biology to understand the flora and fauna that share space with your family.
- Meteorology to determine watering schedules or planting times.
- History of your home and neighborhood and how you came to live there.
- Engineering Structures
- Nature and Wildlife
- Pet Care
- Small Engine Mechanics
6. Play a sport with family, friends, or a local group
Engaging in sports, whether team or solo, is a great way to add activity to your homeschool days. Although considered extracurricular activities, sports teach teamwork, increase interpersonal skills, and offer an opportunity to burn off energy.
- Competitive Rock Climbing
- Competitive Swimming
- Martial Arts
- Running Sports
- Skating Sports
How to Make the Most of the Education of Adventure!
To capture all this adventurous learning, use regular lesson time to encourage your boys to write about their experiences. But don't wait too long. Boys write best when they are excited about ideas and they are fresh. Have them jot down a few ideas immediately. These can be used later to prime the pump.
Writing prompts can be a great tool to get them started. And if you have a reluctant writer, let him dictate his story to you or record his thoughts for you to transcribe.
These journal entries will help you see what your boys learned and retained, where their main interests lie, and will allow you to use many of your adventures for homeschool credits.
- Language arts to write down adventures and practice storytelling.
- Literature to read during quiet times to further explore the areas you visited and the things you encountered along the way.
Expand your lessons with organic learning opportunities to bring adventure to your homeschool. You’ll also increase retention of the material you want to cover in your homeschool year. There’s no better way to corral energy and make memories of your home education journey than adding plenty of adventure along the way.