It’s been a long year of distance learning. The kids are Zoomed out, and parents are undoubtedly burned out, too. While there’s not much you can do about the mandated curriculum, there’s plenty you can teach your kids about the world beyond the classroom.
Alternative-schooling families have lots of ideas for teaching kids experientially. Worldschooling, for example, is an educational movement that advocates for children getting an education by interacting with the world around them through travel and other real-world experiences. It’s like a hybrid of homeschooling and unschooling, where children’s innate curiosities are explored by presenting them with new opportunities beyond the four walls of a classroom.
You don’t have to go to that extreme, however. Distance learning is here for now, but there are things you can teach your kids about the world that don’t require staring at a screen. And the best part? There’s no homework involved, just fun. Here are some ideas.
One great way to teach kids about healthy eating is to show them where food comes from. Take them to farmers markets (lasvegasfarmersmarket.com, fresh52.com, facebook.com/IntuitiveForagerFarmersMarkets) on the weekends and have them chat up the produce purveyors. They can ask about which fruits and vegetables are in season, how long it takes to grow something and what the nutritional values are of certain foods. Then have them pick out stuff to take home, and let them help out with the cooking. You can also take them to pick-your-own places like Gilcrease Orchard (gilcreaseorchard.org) or Vegas Roots (vegasroots.org) to give an even more hands-on experience. They’ll feel vested in what they’re eating, and you’ll be instilling a lifetime of healthy habits.
Teach kids the importance of helping others through volunteer work. One major need right now is at food pantries. Check out Three Square food bank (threesquare.org) for volunteer opportunities; you and your kids (especially older teens) can work offsite or at drive-
thru distribution centers and keep safe during the pandemic. Delivering With Dignity (deliveringwithdignitylv.org) is also looking for drivers to deliver food to those in need. Tote the kids along, and spend some quality time in the car talking about being helpful members of society. Have younger kids who like to draw or write letters? Find local nursing homes accepting letters for residents, or check out loveforourelders.org. Some of these seniors haven’t had visitors in months, and they would welcome friendly correspondence.
Our country has never been more divided, and while it’s easy to fall into our own echo chambers, it’s crucial to teach kids about different points of view. Set aside time each week to discuss current events. Check out learningforjustice.com for resources on teaching kids about civics and digital literacy. They’ll learn how to find reliable online resources, evaluate sources for bias and learn how to engage constructively in digital communities. If your kids are passionate about a social justice cause, help them find contacts for your local officials at usa.gov/elected-officials so they can write letters or make phone calls. They’ll learn the importance of having a voice in government. And the fight for racial justice doesn’t end when the marches on the streets quiet down. Go to idealist.org and help kids navigate resources on what to do today (and every day) to strive for equality.
Greta Thunberg was just 15 years old when she started her “School Strike for Climate” protest in front of the Swedish parliament building. Since, she has inspired millions of people around the world to speak up about climate change and to get legislators to do something about it. Start small with your kids by teaching them the importance of recycling. Take a tour of the Southern Nevada Recycling Center (vegasrecyclingcenter.com), the largest residential recycling center in North America. The recycling technologies employed in the state-of-the-art, 110,000-square-foot facility will fascinate and educate kids while turning them into lifelong recyclers.