Tuesday, 8 January 2008

The School of Life

Sometimes, when I say my children don't go to school, people will say, "Oh, you must be so organized", or "I could never do that", or "I wouldn't have the patience".
I get questions like "Do you teach them yourself?", or "Do you take a break for the summer?"

Well, the answers would be...not particularly organized, if I can do it, anyone can, and I am definitely NOT a patient person.

And no, I don't "teach" them, nor do we take any breaks, because we don't have a schedule and because we don't really "do" school.
The children learn from living their lives. It could be called "self-directed learning", "self-schooling", "life learning" or "enthusiasm-led learning".
But whatever you call it, they learn what they want to learn when they want to learn it.
As a result of being immersed "in the real world" (in other words, being home with me, coming out grocery shopping, enjoying time with friends of all ages, planning and making meals, earning money with some part-time work) they are absorbing so much.Yes, there are going to be some "gaps" in their "education" but then none of us knows everything. I think, however, that some of the things they ARE learning are very practical as far as everyday life is concerned. My three boys have never been to school. Whenever you step "out of the box", there's a risk, and sometimes a niggling doubt in the back of your head, but if you can hold the belief that you're doing the best thing you can for yourself and your children at this particular time, then things have a way of working themselves out.

My now-teenager rebelled against workbooks at the age of 7. Being the first child is always hard, I think, as the parents are learning with you! Over the years, the children have had to endure a cycle of me getting insecure and thinking I had to teach them something, and then realising that if I step back and get out of the way they really will learn. And they learn it because they want to, which means that they will remember it and use it.
My teenager has totally immersed himself in his computer. I would like to see some balance there - eating, sleeping and computer time are his life right now. However, he has taught himself so much from building and using his computer, setting it up with Linux, reading library books, listening to podcasts and googling the information he needs, that his knowledge far exceeds mine.

Way back when the children were small, people used to say, "How are you going to teach them when they get to high school age?" I have said all along that we take it one year at a time and if they need to know something that I can't help them with, they can find someone who can (and mentors really do appear when needed).

Right now, the 12 and 9 year olds are loving being immersed in Lego and reading and listening to books on CD. They spent 3 hours playing outside in the snow today with their sleds. They have the time to just be kids.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post, Nicola. I love this blog's posts about homeschooling/home learning/unschooling (the jargon gets a bit much, huh?). My kids learn the same way as yours, though they're just 6 and 3. I'll take every bit of comfort and reassurance I can get --thanks for that! --Nancy in NC