The Fine Art of Learning

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Little Divine: “Why did you give me a book on race cars to read today?”
Me: “I thought it looked interesting. Give it a try and see if you have anything interesting to journal about after.”
Little Divine: “Hmm, I guess we’ll see.”

Ten Minutes Later.

Little Divine: “Did you know they give out big money prizes to whoever wins the races? And there is a race pretty much every month! And there is this guy, Richard Petty, who holds the all time record for winning 200 races! I wonder if he’s still alive? I’m going to check Google.” (continues to talk while doing so)

This is the learning I’ve hoped for. This is the whole reason I homeschool Little Divine. For a much more natural and child led type of learning. I absolutely bring home books that are on a variety of topics, some Little Divine doesn’t think she’ll be interested in, because I want her to explore the world of learning available to her and find new that peak her interest. With a library card and Google at hand, there is very little that we can’t learn about. I want to challenge Little Divine to research and explore things that come across her mind or her desk so when she’s an adult she will do the same.

Why is the sky blue? Just one question can open the door to so much learning and excitement!

Yesterday Little Divine spent hours researching ways to stimulate the mind of our dog and then trying them out. No one told her to – this was an idea she had all on her own. She got online, found things to try out, and spend a good part of the day doing them. I cannot speak on the dog’s mental stimulation, but she sure was thrilled to get attention and a lot of dog treats! Little Divine shared many of the things she learned with us over dinner and throughout the day. She was really enjoying it!

A few weeks ago Little Divine spent a good hour online researching insects that live in our area, as well as resourceful ways to get rid of the pesky or dangerous ones that can sometimes get in your home. She then recounted to me all the information she learned with pride. I told her I hoped she enjoyed her science lesson and she stared at me curiously. I explained that learning about insects was a part of science and she gave her self a great lesson on them. Her reply? “I didn’t even think of it like that.” No, she just got online and looked up information she wanted to learn. No one stopped her and told her she had to learn what the class was learning. No one told her that it was time to switch to another subject. No one reprimanded her for looking up information on the computer. She got to learn something she was interested in on her terms.

I read a post about unschooling yesterday that I really enjoyed. The writer used a quote from the book, Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book of Homeschooling  by John Holt and Patrick Farenga. In it he describes unschooling as, “interest driven, child-led, natural, organic, eclectic, or self-directed learning… associated with the type of homeschooling that doesn’t use a fixed curriculum… allowing children as much freedom to learn in the world, as their parents can comfortably bear. The advantage of this method is that it doesn’t require (the parent) to become someone else — a professional teacher pouring knowledge into child-vessels on a planned basis. Instead you live and learn together, pursuing questions and interests as they arise …This is the way we learn before going to school and the way we learn when we leave school and enter the world of work.

Unschooling, for lack of a better term (until people start to accept living as part and parcel of learning), is the natural way to learn. This does not mean unschoolers do not take traditional classes or use curricular materials when (they) decide that this is how they want to do it. Learning to read or do quadratic equations are not “natural” processes, but unschoolers nonetheless learn them when it makes sense to them to do so, not because they have reached a certain age or are compelled to do so by arbitrary authority. Therefore it isn’t unusual to find unschoolers who are barely eight-years-old studying astronomy or who are ten-years-old and just learning to read.”

I read that quote to Mr. Divine and he said, “Very nice! That sounds like us.” I think often people assume unschooling means no schooling at all. This is not the case. Unschoolers take classes and learn. They just do it at the child’s pace. Learning is MEANT TO BE FUN. Schools have long since taken the fun out of it. Unschooling is trying to put it back in. Little Divine is full of information and facts. They are things she’s learned about and enjoyed learning about them. I think it’s truly sad that so many school children hate school. Learning should be a wonderful experience!

Last week went to the local museum for Nuclear Science week. We spent 3 hours enjoying the sessions and activities! I signed Little Divine up because nuclear science is not something we’ve covered a lot. I was also thrilled to see a class for just homeschool children was offered. One speaker was a little unsure how to speak about his lesson since we had grades 2 through 8 in our group. Yet the children of all ages were able to sit down and listen, as well as learn what he was teaching and do the activity well! Little Divine and I both learned a lot of neat stuff that we were able to take home and share with Mr. Divine. Neither of us expected to enjoy it as much as we did or glean so much from it. (^.^) It was a great shared learning experience with Little Divine and it opened the doors for more learning at the dinner table with Mr. Divine. We traveled through history and science together as a family.

And so while I look online at a new series of Manga style educational books I’ve found for Little Divine, she reads stories of Roman gods and goddesses, telling me interesting information as she comes across it. She then journals about anything interesting she’s read in the book and we discuss all of it throughout the day. Later we’ll do a science experiment and watch a movie on Robin Hood. For us, this is educational bliss. ❤

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