Teaching Children about Herbs for Health

Wildcraft Herbal Adventure Game

In the spirit of taking every opportunity for learning, I gave my children a game over the holidays that I knew I intended to use for homeschool lessons: Wildcraft, an Herbal Adventure Game. It’s a cooperative board game that works even for non-readers.

Grandma needs huckleberries for a pie, and the players’ job is to work together to get the berries before nightfall. Along the way, we learn about 25 edible and medicinal plants as we gather those as well. We also land on trouble spots when we have to match illness or injury to the herb cards we’ve gathered. If the player doesn’t have the right card, other players can help if they have cooperation cards. As my family plays, we pause to talk about the herbs quite a bit. Movement on the board spirals around with occasional Chutes-and-Ladders-like moves across the spiral.

Along with the game, we received a videos, ebooks, and an herbal newsletter, so we’ve been working through all of these to learn basics about the plants introduced in the game.

We live near a mature golf course, and a rough area is just outside our back door. There are a lot of tall weeds and grasses around us, and deeper into the course are even more interesting plants (and animals, like deer and smaller creatures). As we venture out on daily dog walks, we have our own semi-cultivated mini wilderness to explore. Without specific knowledge of what we were seeing, the rough just looked like weeds before. Weeds, yes, but excellent weeds that have names and uses we are now learning. Walk time is time to test plant recognition and talk about uses.

We’ve also been applying our herbal knowledge as we create homemade cleaning solutions.

We haven’t come close to reading all of the materials that came with the book. Once we do, we will have a good foundation on which to build more in depth knowledge of natural health.

Wildcraft: An Herbal Adventure Game is made in USA by a small family business.

Deciding Whether to School or Homeschool

Parent homeschooling child

The decision to send your child to school or to homeschool should be made based on your child’s need and your willingness. You may also find that it helps you to make a decision if you visit schools and visit with homeschooling families. Try several, since both educational situations come in many varieties.

Visit Schools and Homeschools

Many schools hold open house events for parents of pre-school age children. Ask other parents about their children’s schools to learn what options you have locally, and visit every school you can. Start without your child then take him if you find yourself interested in the school.

Visiting several local child-centered schools and a few charter school meetings was a factor in my decision to homeschool my children—not the only factor but an important way to let me visualize my first child in each setting and ask whether this is where she belonged.

Look up local homeschooling support groups as well. Visit the group meetings. If they sponsor activities, they may invite you along. Once you know homeschooling families well enough, ask if you can spend a day with them just to see how their approach to education works.

I started attending a homeschool support group when my children were very small. We all went on fieldtrips and sports days together. I also visited homeschooling families and found it very helpful to see not only how they structured (or unstructured) learning but how they set up their space.

I am very visual, and I needed the variety of views to give me a rich picture of the potential learning environments available to my children.

Read, A Lot

Start at the library and don’t get too attached to reading whole books about education. Pile the books high. Skim each one. If it doesn’t grab you, shut it! Open the next. Only read what interests you because there are plenty more books and strong opinions about education.

Do the same with schooling information websites and personal blogs. Don’t read so much that you are overwhelmed, but follow the threads that intrigue you.

Then stop. Give yourself time just to talk and think so you don’t submerge your own genuine responses in the passions of others. Make sure that one of the people you talk to about choices is your child.

Ask Yourself

As you start to form an opinion about your child’s education, ask yourself:

  • Why am I drawn to this approach?
  • What are the pros and cons of this approach?
  • What are my child’s thoughts and feelings about education?
  • What does my spouse want to do?
  • Do we have the resources necessary for this?
  • Am I willing and able to do what is required? (This may not just apply to homeschooling, since many schools require parents to participate in the classroom.)

Don’t wait until a few months before it is time to start kindergarten to investigate schooling options. Give yourself as much time and exposure as possible so each member of your family has all of the information needed.

Beginning Homeschool Resources Online

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