Thursday, March 17, 2011

Hey! That's not learning!

Over the last two years, we have moved to a more relaxed, informal method of homeschooling for now. I say for now, because I never thought we would be here, so I expect that it is completely possible to need and desire another method at another time. Some days, it is very obvious to see what lessons are being learned and what activities have resulted in new information. Some days, it's surprising to see where it comes from.

I am learning that when I stand back, and become a spectator, and do not take personally the slights to things I have offered them, things I think they should be interested in, I can watch where they are headed with an activity and build on it. When I can take an interest in the things that interest them it builds relationship bonds, I can also help them expand on it from an 'educational' standpoint. I have assumed, maybe like many of you, that there are certain activities that have intrinsic, educational value, while other things are 'fun' or even 'a waste of time'. I have been reading articles and blog posts that challenge that concept. What if I viewed all their time as 'learning', each tv show, every trip to a store, car-conversations, playdates, role playing, legos, whittling, sibling arguments, dinner time, cub scouts, video games, fort building, etc. Each time watching for sparks that I can nurture and fan into fire. I expect some things will die quickly, but I believe that because their interest is so high in self-directed activities, chances are, there will be fires (literally and figuratively). A current obsession is NinjaGo. It is a lego game based around 'spinning Ninjas'. Could sound like nonsense, right? I found a book called Why Doesn't the Earth Fall Up? that discusses lots of topics the NinjaGos exhibit such as center of gravity, Newton's Laws, and centrifugal force in a humorous and fun way. I also found Forces Make Things Move that illustrates inertia, friction and gravity - all things "taught" by playing with the NinjaGos. Gavin has been using a stopwatch to time (train) his guys and recorded them on paper. He wanted to time them to the hundreth of a second - off to buy a new stopwatch. He then asked me how to work to calculate averages. I can assure you, if I tried to pull out a book and tell him we were going to learn about averages, he would not have been excited.

Mikey has been learning to navigate the website and doing tons of reading about rules and tips (all reading is good reading!). He has also been trying to copy the guys from the site (good practice for him in visual discrimination) and working with tiny objects (great for his fine motor). They have asked for help finding 'stop animation' software (the learned about and tried that at Liberty Science Center).

I will look for books, documentaries and museum exhibits about Ninjas and Japan. We'll see how long it lasts. It could fizzle very shortly (and has with other subjects), but I'll give them as much as they'll take. I love the concept that I don't have to fight against them, and I can trust that they want to learn and uncover how this world works.


  1. Bravo...another good read from you. Thank you.

  2. Check out PIVOT. Its a free software that will let them play with stick figure animation. But it is only PC. Good for you, sad for me:(