Sitting down with Rachel Martin to talk about her return to the Trail Guide to Learning series was so inspiring! She reminded me what an amazing curriculum we have.
One of the aspects I don’t think gets highlighted enough is something Rachel referenced several times in our conversation—how well the subjects flow together!
Or as Rachel put it, “They (the lessons) are seamlessly intertwined."
I liken the way Trail Guide to Learning is written to weaving on a loom because it not only is a good analogy for how it works, but also because of the beautiful product it brings.
Have you ever seen tapestry being woven together on a loom? On one of our homeschool field trips I watched—mesmerized—as the fabric was intricately threaded through the loom and then woven with the others to create the larger piece of tapestry.
Meticulously and thoughtfully woven together, the tapestry of the Trail Guide to Learning provides lessons that make sense while being easy to use so that children can learn better and learn together.
First, it makes sense.
Weaving subjects together and relating them enables learning to be a natural process.
When a subject like Christopher Columbus discovering America can not only look at the story and character of his life but also include information on how to navigate by the stars and ocean currents which affected the course of his ship, learning science makes sense.
Further, when vocabulary words come from the places where Columbus traveled and the people he met, your word study makes sense. When an art project is to build a model ship that Columbus sailed on and label the parts of the ship, again, the word study and art make sense.
Learning for the child is natural. It doesn’t seem forced, out of context, nor artificial.
I will always remember my first few weeks using the Trail Guide to Learning with my first set of kids. We began with Paths of Exploration. Having never experienced this way of learning, I was absolutely blown away by how easy the teaching and learning process became.
It was a new concept to me personally. It didn’t take long to convince me that this way of learning was not only easier but more effective.
Now those subjects (which taught out of context would likely be quickly forgotten) are remembered and connected to a person and place in history. They make sense to a bigger picture.
Second, they learn better.
As would naturally follow, when learning for a child makes sense, they retain what they are learning better, too.
I loved that my children were learning vocabulary and spelling words that were not random but completely connected to everything they were learning and experiencing. Yes, they seemed to learn better, but even more, they seemed to enjoy what they were learning and to feel more confident in their studies.
Research supports that kids learn better when the subjects relate, but I’m not sure how you can measure the joy that comes from learning that way!
Third, they learn together.
Rachel mentioned that as she used Paths of Settlement she was teaching four different children with four different learning levels, even within their respective grades. Yet her kids worked together regardless of their different strengths and weakness, unaware of the pressures of a particular grade level.
The curriculum allowed each child to learn and influence the others at whatever level they were at without fear or pressure.
This unified approach brought a harmony that bonded them together. As they were a newly blended family, this was a huge unexpected blessing.
In my family I found that it helped the younger or weaker child in a certain subject area to have the benefit of learning from the older or stronger sibling with no negative peer pressure.
Fourth, it’s easy to use.
There is no denying that having one book to teach from is much easier than having several books for several different subjects. More than that though, it’s so much easier to teach when the subjects relate to one another.
It allows for natural discussions both in and out of the school day. We already have plenty of things to complicate and challenge our lives. Our curriculum choices certainly shouldn’t!
Fifth, it’s free to try.
With the “Try It Before You Buy” option there is no reason not to give this curriculum a try. Geography Matters offers the first unit (six weeks) of Paths of Exploration, along with almost all of the resources needed to teach it, for FREE! There is no risk or obligation.
MORE INTERVIEWS TO COME: Many thanks to Rachel Martin!
Rachel is the first interview to kick off this year of interviews with veteran Trail Guide to Learning moms. I look forward to interviewing these moms monthly who can share their insights and experience as they’ve used the curriculum. Having different children and life experiences, they will each bring a unique perspective to the table which I feel confident will help all of users and potential users to feel supported and encouraged. I hope you’ll join us each month!