Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Puddle Play - Delving into Self-Directed Learning

"Are you homeschooling through the summer?" It's a question I've gotten a lot the last several weeks. 

We are. Why? For a number of reasons. 

As for me, being their teacher is not something I need or desire a break from, at least not for a weeks at a time. Just a few hours here and there to recharge is all I need. It's fun to watch them continue to learn through another season, which offer different experiences, especially if you are outdoorsy types like we are.

My children do better with regular and predictable habits. So I've kept up the expectation that we will continue with life as usual up until about a week before our move and continue now in our new home. I am confident that it works better for us than abandoning everything to then try to start up again from scratch.

We generally take things easy, so it's not like they are burnt out by homeschool. In fact, they are invigorated by it. Bean and Tey don't switch off learning mode nor take a break from asking a billion questions just because it gets hot outside. In fact, quite the opposite can be true, as evidenced by when it rained yesterday and let them play in the puddles (normally, I'm specifically pointing out puddles for them to avoid to not make a mess of my van, my house, my LIFE!).

The world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful.
- e.e. cummings

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It was so helpful that we could actually see the water evaporating off the driveway. Yay, for natural science lessons that I don't need to set up or clean up (just toss kids in the bath as usual)! The boys took to helping it evaporate by kicking it in the air. We have some visual and kinesthetic learners in our family.
Then we moved over to another part of the driveway where there was some shade. Tey noticed that the puddle was colder on this side, then inferred that it would take longer to evaporate. I couldn't believe he could make that conclusion on his own! I kept my cool and just asked him more about it.
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And lastly, they learned about getting along with each other and playing together. Always a good lesson. Tey makes up some fun rules. "I do a big kick to you, and you do a big kick to me, and if it's too far, just keep on practicing." I love his encouraging words: "Just keep practicing." Like Dori, "Just keep swimming."
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While I don't consider ourselves "unschoolers" in general, I do try to capitalize on naturally occurring opportunities to expose the kids to something new or interesting for them to explore. It never ceases to amaze me how much children can figure out by letting them freely delve into what's before them (sometimes literally), and not starting or stopping them based on some clock, calendar, or lesson plan set by myself or someone else.

I think summer is a perfect time for encouraging self-directed learning in your children homeschooling or not. I'm sure many parents at home with their children this summer are naturally doing this anyway, but you don't think of it as homeschooling because your role seems too simple and easy and the kids are having too much fun! :) Well, just keep it up, fellow homeschooler!

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