Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Children are Always Learning

This week's Blog Cruise topic is Sneaking School Into Busy Days.  Now to be honest, I wondered how to approach this, because I am learning that we don't "do school" in the traditional sense.  I am coming to the realization that I have a hard time separating learning from life, so I have a hard time with the idea that I have to sneak said learning into our days.




You see, those busy days are school.  No matter where we are at, or what we are doing, how many errands I have to run in a week, or how crazy life gets, there is always something my children are observing, hearing, or learning.  I am slowly learning that while I might not be defined as an unschooler, I am coming to understand and embrace their philosophy and lifestyle.  You see, we have a formal math and language arts program, but I don't plot them out on the calendar or force the lessons.  We don't rely on textbooks, and I don't have schedules or color-coded charts.  Don't get me wrong.  I did try all of that.  I just couldn't make it work for our family.  So I abandoned it.  I abandoned lesson plans for real life experiences, and I abandoned formal curriculum for hands-on projects, and I abandoned the idea that school only happens when all the boxes are checked for the day.  So now you might be wondering, how does she know her children are even learning anything?

The same way you, or any other parent knows . . . children are always learning!


I Let the Kids Lead
First, you have to understand that I do continuously research homeschooling methods, learning styles and curriculum.  I try to implement new things that I think will work for my children, draw them in, or inspire them.  I just do not let it rule my home.  I may plan to read a certain book for our read-aloud, but the boys might ask for a different selection.  I am okay with that.  I might have a structured reading lesson planned, but my 6 year old might ask me if he can play Reading Eggs "every day for reading from now on forever" and I am okay with seeing how that plays out.  I might plan to study trees for nature study, and they wander off to examine the insects.  I let them.  I even offer them books about the ones they find most fascinating.  I want to nurture their curiosity and encourage them to explore.  I want them to understand that their interests and desires are important, and that I will respect and honor wise choices.

Studying apple trees {my plan} lead to studying cicadas {their desire} 


We Read to Our Children
I believe this is one of the most important things that any parent can do for their children, and it is probably the common bond among most homeschooling families.  We all love to read to our children.  We read to our children to introduce them to new ideas, new thoughts, new topics, new interests.   I read poetry, Mother Goose, fairy tales or folk tales.  I read magazines, historical fiction, science books, Bible stories, or classic literature.  I read to my children, with no strings attached.  It's important to read for the sake of reading, with no expectations of narrations, or comprehension questions or any other requirement other than to just enjoy the reading and take from it as they will.


Providing a variety of books for their pleasure


We Provide Interesting Experiences
We cannot ignite a passion if they are not exposed to new things, so we are always looking for unique and interesting experiences for our children.  It is not just about taking our children on exciting vacations and field trips--although that is fun, and we do try to plan outings whenever possible!  It's more about the experience and what they choose to take away from it.  Sometimes it could be as simple as taking a class at the hardware store, or going to museum book sales, or visiting the nursing home, or planning a birthday party, or finding a new park.  We invite the kids to participate in these experiences, because each one teaches them something different.

Watching a jousting tournament at a Renaissance festival



I Observe My Kids
Are they asking questions?  If they are asking "why" or "how" then they are seeking new information, and it is my job to help them find the answers.  If I don't know the answer, I try to help them find it as soon as possible while the question is still fresh and they are still curious, because true learning happens when there is an interest.

Are they applying what they have learned?  When they are using new vocabulary correctly in conversation, when their imaginative play includes something new they have learned, or when their drawings are becoming more complex and detailed, I know they are growing and learning.

Do they share new knowledge with other people?  "Hey momma, did you know...?" is a phrase I hear quite often after my 6 year old has learned something new.

What do they want to do?  Are they interested in trying new things?  Go with it!  Is there something they are passionate about?  That "obsession" is probably just their natural way of assimilating information in a way that makes sense to them.  So instead of thinking that my child only wants to play with Lego, I can remember the STEM applications of the toy, and give him a new challenge!





My Conclusion?
I can play audio books during lunch, and I can ask random math questions in the car, and I can have my preschooler hunt for letters while we're running what feels like an endless amount errands.  And yes, I do those things, but not because I am trying to sneak anything past a defiant child or into a hectic schedule.  It has just become a part of the way we do things now.  This is how we, as relaxed, eclectically Charlotte Mason homeschoolers, do school all the time, and those busy days do not present a challenge, but an opportunity for learning and growth.



To see how other families also find learning opportunities during busy seasons or hectic schedules, head back over to the Cruise Post!







©2011-2013 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.  http://www.moms-heart.blogspot.com

19 comments:

  1. Love this post! We don't have to be sneaky about learning because learning is awesome! Your home sounds a lot like ours. I think sometimes it means simply slowing down... Like taking the time to let a child count out their own money at the register, even if it means counting 100 pennies, or stopping to talk to someone you see who is doing something interesting. My favorite moment from yesterday...all of my children in bed with me yesterday morning while the oldest two practiced words for the scripps spelling bee. Lived reading this! Thanks Britney!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're right. Slowing down is key. I try not to "over plan" and get too busy in the first place, so that we can take the time to enjoy experiences, learn from them and see where they take us next!

      Delete
  2. Great post. I've found this to be true in our home as well! Thanks. Pinning and sharing on twitter!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! It's good to know I'm not alone in this.

      Delete
  3. Love the extra tips for making sure they ARE learning. I'm the check off the boxes kinda mom by nature so relaxing in homeschool comes hard for me. This is where my husband comes in. On his homeschool days it's lay back and explore. We balance each other out. I'm learning though. Thanks for dropping by.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've tried schedules, and I'm just not that person. I always feel defeated when we rabbit trail or get off track for whatever reason...so I'm learning to accept that all that OTHER stuff we do instead of what's on my schedule is perfectly acceptable. My husband is the checklist person in our marriage, so I understand the balancing act! :)

      Delete
  4. I love your post. We homeschool this way too, we're unschooling and has just started to learn a little about Charlotte Mason.
    We tried the strict, schedule kind og school in the beginning, about a year back. I just don't do schedules very well.

    Just discovered your blog - you got yourself another reader :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for stopping in! :)

      I'm the other way--I started Charlotte Mason but realize that while I love many of her methods, I am homeschooling for my children, not just to follow a "method" so I am just taking things as they come for now.

      Delete
  5. ah.... a lady who thinks after my own heart... but doesn't have my particular hubby. :) The lad learns, he does some book work and everyone is happy. :)

    annette @ a net in time
    http://anetintimeschooling.weebly.com/a-net-in-time-blog.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well the husband is a work in progress! ;) He's pretty trusting though, and we too make compromises together to figure out this homeschooling thing.

      Delete
  6. I love this post! We are getting to be more and more relaxed too. And I'm fine with that, until someone starts asking questions about our homeschool and then I start worrying about it... I had plans to get back into a routine this fall, (although our routine is always fairly relaxed because I don't do schedules very well), but that routine is still waiting to happen. My kids are still learning lots, in fact, part of the reason I haven't tried too hard to get into a routine is that I'm amazed at what my children have been doing on their own! I had picked up a few workbooks at the dollar store and Walmart and the kids are all excited about them for some reason. Every day they have been working on them, without me ever telling them to! This has never happened before, so right now I'm just watching and waiting to see what is going to happen with this :)

    www.dottodotconnections.weebly.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had plans to get into a routine this fall . . . I'm keeping the books for now, but the schedule is long gone! It's funny, my oldest goes through phases of love-hate relationships with workbooks, and I'm okay with that. I have doubts and get worried about how relaxed we are, but I don't homeschool to school at home, so I am just seeing where things go for now.

      Delete
  7. Wonderful post! My boys may not be old enough to start traditional "home schooling," but they learn so much everyday just from their environment and the experiences they are exposed to! Love being able to teach my boys in a natural way :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! Younger children especially need the chance to learn and explore through their own play, daily activities and natural experiences!

      Delete
  8. Well said! Learning is fun. Kids come into the world bent toward. All we have to do is check into the process and do the things you mentioned: read to them share experiences, and listen. Thanks for the insights.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree--learning should be fun, and it is when you allow the child to learn about what is important and interesting to them!

      Delete
  9. Hi! Stopping by from CyndiHomeschools.blogspot.com.

    I'm a little late (only a little. Ha!) reading this post. I am truly inspired by your blog. I find the CM method fascinating and am trying to work myself that direction, more natural & hands-on, and cut away from this lesson-planning-scheduled day. That's tough for me being a planner by nature. I am finding this fact that children are always learning so very true more and more!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I understand how it's hard to switch from one mentality to another. I have found that if I record all those random things into a lesson planner *after* we do it, I still get a little satisfaction from having things written down, and I can see how much they are learning, and what areas they may need a nudge in. I just try to strike a delicate balance between offering them enough variety that they are taking in a bountiful buffet of ideas and knowledge! :)

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  10. This is how we learn a lot too! My oldest didn't learn anything because i deliberately sat her down and taught her. It was through play, conversation, and most definitely reading that she learned those basic skills. It just becomes part of what we "do." =)

    Stopping by from the VCF!

    ReplyDelete