Woodland Public Schools family uses virtual vacations to extend and enhance learning from home

Since the school closure brought stay-at-home quarantining procedures, the Stuarts came up with a way to bring travel experiences home

WOODLAND — The Stuart family enhances at-home learning by taking virtual vacations around the world using videos, lessons, and home-cooked meals featuring cuisines from exotic locales.

Before the statewide school closure to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, Jeremy and Rachel Stuart’s four children attended Woodland Public Schools’ Lewis River Academy and used online options to learn from home. Karlen, a sixth grader, and Rogen, a fourth grader, both attend Lewis River Academy. Ryker, a freshman, and Tiger, a sophomore, both use an online high school curriculum with Ryker’s taking Robotics from Elizabeth Talvitie and Tiger taking painting from Maleah Cooper at Woodland High School.

The Stuart family children Karlen (6th grade), Rogen (4th), Ryker (9th), and Tiger (10th) use the district's Lewis River Academy program and online resources to learn from home. Photo courtesy of Woodland Public Schools
The Stuart family children Karlen (6th grade), Rogen (4th), Ryker (9th), and Tiger (10th) use the district’s Lewis River Academy program and online resources to learn from home. Photo courtesy of Woodland Public Schools

However, since the closure also brought stay-at-home quarantining procedures, the Stuarts came up with a way to bring travel experiences home. 

“Each week, we pick different countries we want to visit, learn about those countries, take virtual trips using YouTube, and make dinners representing the food from those countries,” explained Jeremy. “Afterward we watch a Disney movie that goes along with the country or region we’re ‘visiting’ – it’s been a lot of fun!”

One week, the family visited Germany where they toured the Neuschwanstein Castle. 

“The castle was the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty’s Castle,” said Jeremy. “Since a few of our kids are studying World War 2, we also had a virtual walking tour of the Auschwitz concentration camp.” For dinner, the family ate schnitzel, bratwurst, and large pretzels.

The following week, the family visited Venice, Italy. 

“We went on a virtual gondola ride on the Grand Canal where we passed Marco Polo’s house and learned gondoliers do wear black pants and striped shirts, however, they don’t sing like in the movies,” said Jeremy. “We also learned that there are speed limits for gondolas and even speed limit cameras along the canals.” Dinner for that trip included pasta and Italian brownie cake.

The family also visited Paris, France where they rode to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Finally, the family’s last stop was in Greece where they visited Olympia and learned about the history of the international Olympics competitions. 

The consistency of the school provided some normalcy during the stay-at-home quarantine for the Stuarts, however, their children miss attending the actual schools. 

“Our two younger kids miss the hands-on interaction of the Wednesday Workshop classes with their other classmates and teachers at Lewis River Academy, and are also disappointed about missing field trips, the science fair, and the end-of-year BBQ that Lewis River Academy holds each year,” said Jeremy. “Our older two miss attending classes at Woodland High School – particularly missing physically being in their robotics and art classes receiving direct instruction and immediate feedback from their teachers.”

The key to home lessons for the Stuarts is flexibility and thinking outside of the box for home learning. 

“You don’t have to hold a rigid routine at a desk each day; learning can happen anywhere at any time of day, and it’s not always from a book,” said Jeremy. “Cooking teaches daily application math like fractions when measuring for baking and also teaches kids how to follow steps in order as well as life skills.” 

The Stuarts recommend other families try to reinforce and enhance their children’s learning by making lessons fun, creative, and interactive. 

“Learning at home allows for individual learning and teaching styles,” said Jeremy. “Value the time you have with your children when they would normally be at school, and take the opportunity to really engage in topics; you’ll be surprised how much they learn and how much they look forward to it.”

About Woodland Public Schools’ Lewis River Academy

Lewis River Academy (LRA), a Woodland Public Schools program serving home-schooled students in grades K-8, offers an alternative learning environment for students who want to participate in a different approach to learning using a combination of in-class curriculum and home-schooling. 

“The mission and vision of LRA is to be an extension for our homeschooling students by offering online and in-person alternatives to traditional school,” said Jake Hall, executive director of Learning Supports and Alternatives for Woodland Public Schools who also serves as the program’s principal. To learn more about the program, visit www.woodlandschools.org/lra 

To learn more about how Woodland Public Schools continues educating its students and serving the community during the statewide closure, visit the dedicated news webpage at https://www.woodlandschools.org/home-learning-stories.

Information provided by Woodland Public Schools.

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