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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What You Learn By Ditching School

A couple of weeks ago I was trying to decide what to do about school. Should I keep unschooling? Or go back to school at home? Or maybe somewhere in the middle? While thinking and planning and praying I made a list. I found the list yesterday while flipping through my notebook and thought I would post it here. My list.

What I learned-
1. Kids want to learn- it really is true kids do want to learn. The may not want to learn what I want to teach them but they do have a desire to learn.
2. Everything is learning, even when it doesn't look like learning-I learned maize is corn. I learned that from watching the movie grown ups the other day. I also learned that it is almost impossible to go a whole day, let alone a whole week without learning something. And It doesn't have to be working fractions on a piece of paper to be math, it may just be realizing that if you have twelve crayons you and your two sisters can each have four.
3. My kids want some structure to their learning- Okay not all my kids but Ashley definitely does. And Kyle and Lacey like workbooks. Especially if they can do them when they want to.
4. Learning should come from as many real experiences as possible- Life really is the best teacher. Just letting them live life, surrounded by people, going shopping, visiting friends, playing on the computer, going to church, cooking or doing chores, all these things teach them how to really live in the world.
5. Don't think more is better, often less is best- Its better to focus on a few things that they really enjoy or love than dabbling in several things that they don't care anything about. I think we (teachers, parents, society ?) have gotten the idea that information is power and that we may leave out some vital piece of information that is going to somehow prevent kids from living a productive life. So we try to cram as much information as we can into their heads, hoping that we can give them that one magical piece of knowledge that they need to be happy, useful adults. But I don't know what they are going to need as adults, will they choose a career in science? Or maybe one requiring mathematical knowledge? So how can I predict what they need to know? Maybe it is better to help them develop their interests and help them learn to find the information they need as they need it.
6. Leave plenty of time for play- sometimes they do their best learning while they are playing. And Besides they are only going to be kids once and for such a short time. I need to give them time to play, to dream, to wonder. They have a lifetime to think about jobs and bills, relationships and responsibilities, but only a few short years to build a fort, fight monsters and dragons, be a princess or hang out with friends. I want to nurture their childhood and enjoy it- it passes so fast.

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