Unexpected Lessons

One of my favorite things about homeschooling, especially in the city, is how many times we go out and happen upon learning experiences.  We are a pretty active family who likes to explore and always be on the go.  Even the most routine adventure can be turned into a lesson, which appeals to this worksheet hating mama.

My son’s bike needed minor repairs and had been out of commission all summer.  We were so busy city pool hopping though that it wasn’t really an issue.  Now that the weather has returned to sanity (goodbye 90° and up!) I figured it was time to take care of the bike.  Every parent with highly active children know the value– for the kids and any person around them– in making sure they are well exercised.

The bike was a gifted to my son, Xavier, from our friend Rocky, who volunteers in a beloved community bike shop.  The shop owner made a habit over the years of reconditioning bikes to give to less fortunate kids and families who may not be able to afford purchasing one themselves.  We happened to be one of those families at the time and I can’t express the amount of joy Xavier had receiving it.  Since I know nothing about servicing bikes, I messaged the man who built it.   Xave is really into fixing so I asked Rocky if he could be a part of servicing the bike, it was no problem.

We got to Kraynick’s Bike Shop in the Garfield community of Pittsburgh, unloaded the bikes (we brought the whole family’s) and went in to set up.


I wasn’t aware of it before, but the shop is actually set up as a workspace for the community.  Locals can come in and tune their own bikes, or have Mr. Kraynick or a volunteer fix it for them. Either way, people are encouraged (though not made) to take part in the process.   This was perfect!

Rocky mounted the bikes on the rack, one after the other, and proceeded to show Xavier the basics of how to oil the chains, test and adjust the gears on the adult bikes, fill the tires, and fix a slipped chain.  Xavier mentioned that he would like a hand brake, so Rocky went above and beyond and showed him how to install one as they worked on it together.  He even threw in a headlight for the night riding Xave so desperately wants to do (‘fraid not yet, my young son).

This morning Xavier is schooling me on how the brake works, how to put it on, and where the rear hand brake will go when he has mastered the front one.  There is nothing more satisfying to me than seeing my children learn practical life lessons.  We love book learning, that certainly has a place in our homeschool days, but seeing them learn how to actually take care of things themselves is priceless.  The added bonus yesterday was Xavier seeing community in action.  These two things combined– practical learning and community involvement– made a wonderful day of unexpected lessons.  And it was amazing.   ~Audrey


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