Summer is here and a lot of children are out of school with some free time on their hands. This affords parents a great opportunity to further their education and spend extra time with them, which is valuable all unto itself. Gas up the car and go someplace, anyplace, as long as it is different. The destination doesn’t have to be far, expensive or necessarily historic or important.
Travel itself is education. Children experiencing some place new are learning on several different levels through all of their senses. As any Floridian can attest, one of the most memorable parts of first hitting the beach is not just the breathtaking view, but the smell of the ocean. The same is true with a hike deep into a forest. Sight and smell working together, then add the sounds – this is education at a deep level that cannot be reproduced in any classroom. Throw in touch – that of a starfish or moss or sand or a furry animal, and you have real school.
Different experiences flowing into a child’s brain aren’t quantifiable or testable, but are invaluable to build an understanding of the surrounding world. Planet earth is facing large problems, presenting large opportunities for those ready to figure out ways to make things better. In order to make things better, it is important to understand how things are now. Take them to the river. Take them to the beach. Take them to the forest. Take them to a farm. A lot of children think that clean water comes from a tap, food comes from a store and oxygen is just sort of there. Period.
I remember going to a farm for the first time where I found myself standing in a pasture among a herd of cows on a foggy evening. I remember shucking corn for the corn roast.
If you don’t want to go for the nature, go for the architecture. The old houses in Thomasville or St. Augustine have tales to tell. Pre-air conditioning houses teach us science. There are reasons for porches, tall ceilings and long hallways running through the middle. They teach us history. In Charleston, you can tell the union sympathizers from the confederates from the fences around the house. If they were iron, they were union, because the rebels had donated their iron to the cause. Rebel fences are wooden.Speaking of history, I remember visiting Gettysburg, gazing out over the peach orchard where Pickett made his charge and viewing the union hills ahead. It made the carnage of war very real to me. Closer to home is Andersonville, Ga. where the union prisoners were held. There are old forts to the east and west of us. FSU has a World War Two museum and FAMU one for civil rights.
If you like people, Ray Charles came out of Greenville, Fl. just on the other side of Monticello. Jesse Owens, who stuck it to Adolph Hitler and the Nazis during the Olympics, came out of Cairo, Ga. Or, if you like science, visit the mag-lab, or the marine-lab.
The point being is get in the car, load up some food and water, take the family and go, anywhere, just as long as it is some place different. Childhood memories will turn into adult understanding over time. This is a gift for any child. This is an education.