Every truth has four corners: as a teacher I give you one corner, and it is for you to find the other three. Confucius

24 February 2011

A Day of Chasing Stuff & Natural Learning....

Hi Everyone,

Alas, today we didn't build our scarecrow as planned because as often happens with young children a more immediate job came to hand....yabbying!

Jay and Freida found some fishing nets yesterday and woke up wanting to use them.

After catching my angels attempting to catch the chickens, dogs, kittens and our 3 goldfish with said nets, I decided a trip to our local yabby creek was in order. Afterall, needs must and we can always build Mr Scarecrow another day.

As usual the yabbies got away but the kids had loads of fun. I had the task of sitting on the grass under a peppertree to watch them play while listening to the soothing sounds of the creek and birdlife....nice!

Sitting there I recalled a friend and I in the same spot a couple of years ago. After sitting in companionable silence for a while she turned to me and said You know you'll have to use Natural Learning with Jay, don't you? At the time I could see what she meant, and over the years it's become even more apparent to me.

Jay is most comfortable doing stuff. He excels in physical balance and control, creating and problem solving, particularly outside. My friend intrinsically knew he was a kinesthetic learner and learns best by experiencing the world around him. A classroom could cater for his needs but he wouldn't shine the way he does after a day at the creek or in our garden. And I reckon kids should be able to shine at every opportunity.

I'll just make the point here that Natural Learning doesn't mean not doing anything, that's an unfortunate mis-interpretation. To me, Natural Learning is putting yourself in the position where you understand your child well enough, through observation and discussion, to get how they learn best and run with it. It's about trusting your child to want to learn and facillitating that where you can.

For one child this may mean reading loads of history books and writing reports about the intracasies of medieaval battles, and a parent creating learning experiences around that for a while (visual learner). For another it may mean going to a lake, taking out specimens and examining them under a microscope. Recording findings may take the form of an oral presentation, a picture, writing, a model, whatever, when they get home (kinesthetic learner). Another child may love playing an instrument and practice and research music as a large part of their learning programme (audio learner) and so on. All are valuable learning experiences and possible within a homeschooling curriculum.
N/B: Of course, all children learn in a unique way and my generalisations are just to illustrate a point.

Anyway, we all came home tired and grateful for the gorgeous surrrounds we'd been hanging out in. Personally, I feel grateful to have a friend who cared enough for my child to point out to me a way of learning that would allow him to be wholly himself....to shine :)

Talk Soon, Cynthia x

Some resources I've found helpful for Natural Learning are:

http://www.home-ed.vic.edu.au/ Otherways magazine, published by the Home Education Network (Victoria)

http://homeschoolaustralia.com/ An exceptional South Australian site, run by Beverley Paine.
Beverley covers many education methods in her publications. She writes for families who are interested in writing their own learning programs or supplementing book work with an activity based approach to home education, so her material is also suitable for school-at-home and traditional home educators.

Holt, John and Farenga, Patrick. Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book of Home-schooling. Cambridge, Ma: Da Capo Press, 2003.

Weldon, Laura Grace. Free Range Learning: How Homeschooling Changes Everything. Prescott, Arizona: Hohm Pres, 2010.

Dobson, Linda. Homeschooling the Early Years: Your Complete Guide to Successfully Homeschooling the 3- to 8-Year-Old Child. New York:Three Rivers Press, 1999.

Dobson, Linda. The Ultimate Book of Homeschooling Ideas: 500+ Fun and Creative Learning Activities for Kids Ages 3-12. New York:Three Rivers Press, 2002.

Hunt, Jan. The Natural Child: Parenting from the Heart. Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publishers, 2001.

Taylor Gatto, John. Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling. Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publishers, 2005.