Friday, January 1, 2010

A Month of Learning

In the month of December, there was no "school", but there was lots of learning. Here is a glimpse of that learning that often makes me wonder why we don't do it this way all the time.

Drawing.
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(Miah)
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Puzzle making.
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Becoming numismatists.
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Building relationships.
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Working on manual dexterity and creativity.
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Clipping the rabbits. (Also a delightful education in treating an abscess and woolblock. Don't worry - no pictures of that.)
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Reading.
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Cake baking.
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Playing the violin and using the potty.
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Inspecting bugs.
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Writing about bugs. There was quite a bit of writing coming from Miah about all kinds of things.
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Explorations in the proper use of a magnifying glass.
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An experiment involving water, ice, and roly-polies. To which I protested.
(me)"I don't think they like being so cold. They'll freeze."
(Larkin)"It's an experiment."
(me)"They can't breathe underwater. They'll drown."
(Larkin)"It's an experiment."
(me)"You're killing them. You know you're killing them, right?"
(Larkin, calmly, studying the air bubbles on the submerged roly-polies)"It's an experiment."
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Studying scientists.
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Revealing Australian animals.
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Seeing the moon up close for the first time.
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Pondering patterns.
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Pondering the pictures.
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And tonight's practical life exercise - peeling onions. Zahana found one and peeled it, then asked for another. Then everyone wanted one. And they peeled all the onions. Then Miah and Larkin peeled all the garlic. Then they wanted potatoes, but potatoes really do need their skins. And we learned why onions make us cry - sulfur. Who knew peeling onions could be so engaging?
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So why don't we do it this way all the time? Why does Mama impose structure and math lessons? For the same reason I make them brush their teeth. It's my job. I could, at one extreme, impose too much rigidity, keeping the kids in their chairs with piles of worksheets and lots of boring mind-numbing busywork (or work that was too difficult) in front of them, keeping a strict schedule that did not allow for life and the simple joy of discovering an onion.
Ephesians 6:4 comes to mind: "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord."
A rigid school structure set up in the home would be exasperating. Larkin, a few weeks ago, wanted to learn about the rainforest. I know if I was really interested in learning how to bake a cake, but someone told me, "I'm sorry, cake-baking isn't in the schedule for another 14 weeks. Right now you need learn crocheting.", I would be exasperated. So we learned about rainforests. Sometimes I forget that cake-baking can come before crocheting or that crocheting really doesn't have to come at all. Then we get a month like December, and I remember. And I have to think about it a lot.
I could, on the other hand, impose nothing. Allow all education to be child-led. What would be wrong with that? I think, ultimately, this course could be just as exasperating for the child as too much rigidity. If I never actively taught anything which a child showed no interest in, it is likely that he would come to a point in life where he realizes a certain skill would be very valuable but would at that point be so discouraged at his inability that learning would be much more difficult and frustrating.
I do not, in the least, profess to have it all figured out. You cannot imagine (or perhaps you can) how this question of methods goes on and on in my mind. But I have come to the conclusion, as I usually do, that the key is balance. That if a beloved philosophy is just not working for a specific child or the home in general, it's time to try something else. Because I can. To be enslaved to a method or schedule (or lack of one) is no better than being trapped in a system. Which reminds me of another verse.
"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." Galatians 5:1
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7 comments:

  1. What a excellent post. :) And I totally agree. Funny, all those same thoughts have been running through my head this month..... SO much learning going on, yet no structure. But I am so looking forward to starting our 'semiformal' structure in a few weeks. :0 I have high hopes and excitement for our little homeschool this year!
    Thanks for popping by today. :) Oh and nice to see your little ones exploring Australian animals!! If you ever want to meet them in person you have a place to stay here. :) xo

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  2. I so agree. It is balance between structure and freedom that works for our family, too. Your family is so beautiful. What card game is that about scientists...what is it called? It looks interesting.
    -Phyllis

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  3. The game is called Sci-ology. You can find it here:
    http://www.playfairtoys.com/product/Sci-ology-Game

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  4. The question of methods goes on over and over again in my mind too. I have yet to find that perfect balance which perhaps doesn't exist. Your pictures are great though and I love Larkin's experiment :)

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  5. Lovely post, Sarah.
    Balance is a beautiful thing. :)

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  6. Good post, Sarah! I LOVE THAT last picture of your dd! HOW SWEET IS THAT!

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  7. Looks JUST like our house for the past several weeks if you substitute a snail for the roly poly!! : )

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