Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Left to Themselves

While I was sick last week, the boys were mostly left to themselves apart from meals, and a bit of reading together.  As I moved slowly about taking care of the essentials, and sat resting and dozing in the rocker, I listened to them playing, and I was struck by what I heard. It wasn't anything earth-shaking, or even out of the ordinary - just that I was more still than usual, and they were given more wide-open blocks of time in which to do what they pleased.

I've been moving more toward an unstructured kind of approach to our homeschooling: something less like sitting down for a certain amount of time to "do school", and more like learning just being what we do, all throughout our days and fueled by what captures our interests.  It's all in process, figuring this out - and I keep going back and forth in my thinking about how much or how little structure I and they need and would benefit from.  I often find myself second-guessing this approach - thinking that others, looking in on our days, would disapprove.  Not to mention that this is all entirely antithetical to my days of public school education, and even to the time we spent very happily at the school the boys attended for a few years.  New ground.

At any rate, as I listened through the week, and thought about it, I realized how much they truly are actively involved and learning, exploring, growing, even (and maybe especially) when they are just left to themselves.

Even though I was sick and not able to do much for them, and abandoned all plans for activities I had come up with, they just kept right on creating and exploring and finding what they needed themselves.  They spent lots of time outside being active and exploring the newly running creek as the snow began to melt.  They decided to make a sign for their "pizza truck" and instead of asking me how to spell it, remembered a story in a magazine with the word "pizza" in it, found the magazine and story, and made their sign.  They had a blast thoroughly deconstructing the baby monitor that finally had enough and would only beep unendingly.  They made fishing poles, a pond and fish.  

Little things.  But I think the little things, put together, are what I will have to go on in figuring this homeschooling thing out, and it's little things like these that encourage me to think that despite the worries and the feeling as though it's all I can do to catch (and keep) up, maybe they're (we're) actually doing just fine.


  1. In this homeschooling thing, there's always the stuff we teach them (or try to teach them), but what's more interesting is all the stuff that they learn somehow when we're just living life. It's become a bit of a joke around here, where I ask one of the kids "where/how/when did you learn that?" It's one of my favorite things about homeschooling.... sure, we do sit down work (those fundamental skills -- math/writing/reading), but then they just figure so much out for themselves.

    1. It's funny how often it is still a surprise, how much they do and figure out just on their own - it's one of my favorite things about it, too :)