Saturday, November 5, 2011

Child Led Learning

Like many home school moms, I feel that I'm not teaching enough or accomplishing enough with my kids, from time to time. Then, there are days like today that resulted in a library trip with over 100 books picked mainly by three of my children and a love for reading, being read to and learning that has nothing to do with my direction or agenda.

I used to shy away from the word " unschooling". I felt that it was a great catchall for moms who did not prioritize school, wanted to take the lazy way out and still call it schooling. However, now, two years into our journey I realize that, may times, unschooling is a great way for a child to explore his world without the restraints of an institution dictating his every move.

"What we want to see is the child in pursuit of knowledge,
not knowledge in pursuit of the child."
- George Bernard Shaw

I read this very interesting article, unschooling, and it really opened my eyes to the opportunities we have to sit back and watch God unfold the creative interests that flow out of our children. As a homeschooling parent, we have such a great responsibility to encourage learning, not to hinder it. The public schools do a great job of laying everything out and a sequential order of when things should or should not be accomplished and who should learn what and when. We are not public schooling- we are home educating. 

I pray that the environment I create for my children is always one of wonder, excitement and opportunities for self led exploration. Are you interested in trains, then let's build trains, watch trains, read about trains, talk about trains, etc. Are you interested in trees? Let's hike, explore, feel, read, compare and contrast as many trees as we can possibly handle. 

For about 9 months, both of my boys were obsessed with pet books. We probably checked out EVERY single book the library had to offer and then requested even more on top of that. I loved that every spare minute of my life was filled with pet facts, pictures and questions. They are almost beyond that now- except for lizards and reptiles for Austen. Yet, I look back on those nine months with such a sweet memory of the boys learning. 

Our school still continued on as we were touring the United States through our unit studies, doing our math and language arts. I would definitely not consider myself a hardcore "unschooler". Yet, there was more than enough time to allow for their child led explorations.

A few weeks ago Jayden started loving the game " Battleship" and out of his own curiosity he wanted to go to the library and request every book that has to do with warships, submarines, etc. So, that has been my challenge for the past few weeks and honestly, I haven't read a whole lot of the books. Jayden has read them day and night, night and day. Today, he was explaining to me the shape of the first submarine ( it was like a turtle shell if you were wondering). The task it had during the Revolutionary war ( to put a torpedo under the British ship) and how it moved, was engineered, etc. I find this all fascinating and so cool to see his eyes light up over something that he is very excited to learn about.

Austen loves the Rumble series, anything to do with zebras and dinosaurs now. I love that each child knows how to check out books on their own, spines down please. I love that they each walk out with their own, very possessive pile of books that could topple them over at any moment.

So, I sit back, on days like this, with my hot cider in one hand and a heart of gratitude in my heart. I love teaching my children....but many times, I am too directed and need to realize that they are learning each and every day...they love learning- which is my number one educational goal for them- and they view the library as an exciting and fun place to hang out!

Each day, my gifts from God teach me a valuable lesson. I am so thankful for the piles of books all over my house, van, and their bedrooms. I am so thankful for wide eyed, wonder. So let's "school" another day.

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