Thursday, April 07, 2011

Staying Local

Over at Unschooled, Kate posted about the advantages of homeschooling and how she plans to do the same when she has a family. One of the possible advantages would be being able to travel.
I countered that proposition with the idea of staying local. Knowing local. Being immersed in local.

For instance, today was a sunny day (started out mysterious and foggy) when my daughter and I set out on our bikes (for the first time since winter began) and had a wonderful ride down pass the bay, and onto trails that connect our city to another town.
Let's say-it was a mini 'staycation.'

We observed red- winged black birds, hawks, blue jays, and even a woodpecker. B fed chickadees; we observed geese and ducks in their nestling grounds in the Marsh (got frightened off by two really aggressive squirrels of all things).
We had an adventure when we tried to find the historic Easterbrooks (since 1930) and I was informed by my daughter that her great-grandmother carved her name on one of the booths when she was about the same age.  We did find it and we enjoyed milkshakes and French fries.

     B really knows her 'back yard.' All our kids are steeped in the history of place (due to having a father who is a history buff). They are familiar with the geography and the ecology of our City and with its many green places and waterfalls. They are also familiar with the image of the city as Steel Town; industrial, working class, gritty, unpretentious.

They know all the bodies of water that surround the city- the bay where they frequently canoe; or skate upon in the winter. Lake Ontario where they swim (and where their grandmother had her swimming lessons as a child). The trails that connect town to town; the drinking water that we get once a month from the spring.
They know the culture scene: arts,environment, activism, literary, music and all the great people in these movements.
The university corridors they know like the back of their hands. The markets, the best vintage stores, the 'coolest' place to have coffee, brownies and a game of chess; the best place to eat falafel. The best place to get your photo copying done. Our favorite Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner. Best slopes to tobaggon or go cross country skiing. Best swimming pool. The harbourfront trail and where to get good ice cream.
Favourite movie theaters. The list goes on and on.
This is the advantage of leading an unschooled life-we explore and go where our noses lead us and we learn to really appreciate the community we live in.

12 comments:

Cathy said...

I LOVE this post. I am always impressed with people that know their own community like the back of their hands. We aren't big travelers, but this has inspired me to get out with the kids and get to know our local area a little better this spring!

AprilS said...

I've lived in Austin, TX for over 15 years now. It wasn't until 2 years ago that I really started to enjoy everything this city has to offer! Which made me realize how important it is to share this with kids. We have amazing hike and bike trails, lots of great public art and some amazing swimming holes.
I feel like I have finally become part of the city and have been enjoying it to its fullest!

rfs said...

@Cathy-thanks for the comment.I think that it really is a great thing when we can be rooted in our community and have a grounded sense of place!

rfs said...

@AprilS-It was my husband who really got me appreciating what is right here in our own neck of the woods. I am amazed at how much the kids have learned about the bike routes, the trail systems, the flora and fauna, the history of our city Hamilton thanks to his taking the lead on this. Happy discovering!

celestine said...

I hated where i grew up and regret that I didn't take the time to learn more about my home. I just always wanted to leave. Now I have very few memories or adventures to share with my kids.

Emily said...

Such a great post that I'll be linking to it from my blog, whenever I get the post written. Hope you don't mind. And thank you for writing it!

rfs said...

@Emily. Please do! You have a wonderful blog, by the way.

Lesli Peterson said...

This has been our goal. My son and I go everywhere and try everything in our own area. We are in an Atlanta suburb, so we have a large area to try out. And I love it because things that are too old for him are there for us the next year, or the year after. We can do something new every other day if we want to.
I like to encourage people to try geocaching. This has opened up new places to our family - lovely places that we never would have found otherwise!

rfs said...

@Lesli-what is geocaching? Is it like orienteering?

growingflowers said...

Very excited about finding this post.... this blog. I am a homeschooling mama of teens and I just love it, love it! I hope it is ok to link it!

rfs said...

@growingflowers-Welcome! You are absolutely welcome to link.

Anonymous said...

Love this post! Although I want to discover more of the country I live in so -a bit of both. Thanks.

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