homeschooling, homemaking, homesteading...home.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

What "life learning" looks like

It's sometimes difficult (and uncomfortable) to field questions from well-meaning, curious people who hear that I'm homeschooling my kids and assume that we use a "school at home" model. We're not that predictable. We're not predictable at all. We have no routine, no schedule, no plan. The kids are young and much of my motivation is to NOT push rigid academics this early.

But learning is not exclusively a result of "teaching". We do learn. And often, it looks like this.

The kids and I were on an outing yesterday (amusement park, woo!) and during the day my husband left for a weekend business trip. When we got home, we discovered this on the dining room table.

I cannot tell you how overjoyed, touched, and just plain geeked out I was about it.

And so was Theo.

My current approach is not to "teach", so much as it is to scaffold, to strew, and to encourage a joy of both discovery and investigation. We got strange looks at the public pool a week or so ago when an older gentleman overheard my 6-year-old announce, "I have a hypothesis!". Yes, you might recognize that he's parroting a stock line from Dinosaur Train. But what's important here is that he used the term, and the process, correctly. And with joy. Scientific investigation isn't a chore to him; it's an adventure. He wasn't content to just passively experience something that day; he had a burning curiosity about the how and why, and took the first step toward understanding it.

Those are skills that lead to success in life. Rote memorization will help you pass an exam, but the navigating real knowledge involves skills, and risk: the ability and the courage to ask, "what if?". These are the gifts that I am choosing to nurture, because they will serve him well. And he won't get them from a worksheet.


  1. ok, so I don't home-school, but we do this a lot, too. And Sam is CONSTANTLY talking about evolution, and things evolving. His daddy is SO proud! LOL

  2. As unschoolers our lives are filled with these kind of moments. The joy in living this day-to-day is such a wonderful experience. That is a HUGE butterfly and I would have been frightened. Ha!

    Oh, and I was a traditionally-trained science major (I have a degree in chemical engineering). While I liked the work itself, there was SO MUCH of that rote-memorization crap going on in school (middle, high, and college). When I got into my career it turned out you didn't ever need to really regurgitate loads of that stuff. You had books and computer programs and references etc. I simply can't imagine how my life would have been different without the school model but in watching my kids I get an inkling and it sure looks wonderful.

    Thank you for a lovely post.