I have learned so much on our homeschool journey, but one of the most significant lessons I have learned is that there are many ways to inspire through teaching that do not include just dumping information into kids. For our World Cultures & Geography program, I signed up to lead a lesson/activity for our unit on Indigenous People in North America, and I wanted to find a meaningful way to convey to our young kids how deeply interesting and varied these cultures are. With almost 600 tribes in North America, I was overwhelmed deciding what to do. I knew that horses are essential to the culture and history of Plains Native Americans, and, in my younger days, I was deeply involved in taking care of and riding horses. So it seemed like horses were a natural way to approach my lesson.
A couple of years ago, I started taking my son for lessons because I knew the value of being close to horses, learning how to take care of them, learning how to respect them, and learning what it meant to work hard. (When I was a kid, I would work all day just to earn a ride.) Wonderfully, my son has developed a love of horses all his own. I wanted to teach our City Kids bunch about the importance of horses to Plains Native Americans because it was one way for them to understand the history, culture, stories, and geography of these Peoples, and I thought teaching through horses could be a way for my son and me to share our mutual passion with our co-op. So for our field trip, as a follow up to our lesson, we all went to a horse center together. My son was proud to be able to take ownership of our lesson by helping his friends in the barn and by showing them everything he knows about horses. Kids are teachers, too!
I hope that our City Kids bunch will grow up remembering what they learned about horses and Native American culture, in part, because they were able to have a hands-on learning experience with these amazing animals. And I hope the horses enjoyed having our kids!
(For information about our initial lesson on the importance of horses in Native American People's, please see our blog post here.)