“A child will never choose to learn about the Declaration of Independence.””Do they learn anything?”
Those are just a couple versions of the reaction interest-led home schoolers (un-schoolers) get when people hear about our schooling methods. There is a myth out there that just because we allow our children to choose topics to study, that they will never pick the hard topics.
This post is just a part of my reply.
I happen to have 3 children that are doing mostly interest-led learning. We haven’t always done it this way, but we have found that it is what keeps our children interested. Did you catch that?
Our children learn about things that they wonder about. Things that they are exposed to. Topics that they hear discussed.
I’d like you to take a step inside our ‘world’.
Because of where we live we do not have access to a library with books in English. We also only have one bookstore that sells books in English and they are all full-price (very expensive). We don’t have any home school co-ops. In fact we are one of the VERY few families that home school in the entire country. No opportunities for scheduled field trips.
And in our house, no boring textbooks!
Does that stop us from learning?
So, how do we, with such limitations, learn anything that is not specifically in our curriculum-based textbooks?
While this blog is filling up with examples of interest-led learning, today I just want to share about one example of how we facilitate a lifestyle of learning and exploration.
Instead of having a only a few books from the expensive bookstore, we have some awesome people (my mom and my in-laws) that have taken their time and money to send us books. My mom finds great things at 2nd hand stos. Lots of books. My mom finds great books at 2nd hand stores. And I also send them money from time to time to pay for the outrageous shipping prices.
This is our home library. The books on the left-side are mostly non-fiction. The other books range from baby to early reader to simple chapter books to monster chapter book collections. Lots of great titles like James and the Giant Peach (and others from Roald Dahl), Anne of Green Gables, Little House on the Prairie (the entire collection), Mandie, and other not-so-classic titles like Junie B. Jones and American Girl. For the little ones we have lots of Little Critter books, Eric Carle, Steven Kellogg, Sandra Boyton and more. And, of course, what modern family library would be complete with the ever-so-compelling Tag & Tag, Jr. books? (Just kidding!….We do have them, but I suppose your library could be complete without them.)
Those stacks on the benches are the books that were read last week.
During the school week we limit our kids’ screen time (computer & iPad) to almost none. With the exception of online school sources like Reading Eggs. Or projects that require on-line research.
I do require my kids to do their math & grammar curriculum, spelling, and a focused writing curriculum. But in general, they are done with their book work in less than 2 hours. (Much less than 2 hours if they work really hard at it, but we have talkers and movers in our house…lol!)
What do they do with the rest of their day? They learn! Just not with textbooks or worksheets.
With games, toys, free (supervised) exploration, and lots of reading!!!
I have never had to cajole my kids into reading. I simply provide the books. Any time we get a new box of books, I leave them off the shelves for a week or so and my older girls devour them. Any topic. Non-fiction & fiction alike. Every.single.book. Not a page left unturned. After they finish them the books do go back on the shelves, but they come back out to be explored again & again.
So the Declaration of Independence? That was 1st & 2nd grade. And 3rd. And 4th. And again in 5th. Learning something new each time. 🙂
Pictures are said to be worth 1,000 words. So let me share a little picture with you. This was Friday. A snow day. They rushed to finish their book work without me even prompting them, so that they could go play in our very rare snow.
Once they had enough of the cold, they came back in. The activity of choice of all of them?
Reading. And eating popcorn….lol!
What are other ways you use to spark the interest of learning in children? Even if you are not able to do 100% interest-led learning, choosing topics that children are interested in, will help them to absorb material much easier.