Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Rise of the Home "Unschoolers"

“I want my children to become independent lifelong learners and to know that whatever they want to learn, they can learn it. Lay on a feast of interesting ideas and children will learn – that’s what they do.”

Rise of the Home 'Unschoolers' - Where children learn only what they want to

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

No Pens Day Wednesday

My husband and I had a chuckle because the school he is on supply in this week are doing "No Pens Day Wednesday" today - an initiative by The Communication Trust encouraging schools to focus on speaking and listening activities. When he mentioned it to me yesterday, I thought it was a weekly thing - No Pens Day Wednesday - but no. Apparently, for this school, it is an annual event. I find this amusing, because it is billed as being such a radical concept for schools. But seldom do our boys pick up pens in our home education journey - sometimes, but not often. It is certainly not their preferred method of learning. Thinking about it, seldom do I pick up a pen and write in modern life - do you? In fact, one of the strengths of home education - whatever form is takes - is its focus on quality conversation between children and adults. Interestingly, this article came up on my social media feed yesterday about signage being used in supermarkets in America to encourage conversation between parents and children.

Whilst I chuckle because it seems so obvious and contrived, and such a small step in the grand scheme of things, the intention behind both this idea - and No Pens Day Wednesday - is, of course, good .... "The supermarket study is one seed of a much bigger idea about creating opportunities for children to learn in the wider world; to leverage caregivers as teachers and, in the process, try to level out stubborn inequities." It is my belief that quality conversation, as John Holt says, is a key means of learning about the world. What do you think? Do you prioritise quality conversation in your family?

I suggested to my husband and the boys that perhaps we should have "Pens Day Wednesday" at home ... They looked at me as if I was crazy! So here are a few snapshots of our No Pens Day Wednesday .... I wonder what they did in schools today?

Making play dough characters ...

Experimenting with clay figures and cocktail stick bones whilst discussing the purpose of our skeletons. Do you know all the amazing functions of our bones?

Exploring platonic solids ( ...

Can you spot the odd one out? (Clue: One is not a platonic solid!)

Brothers baking brownies ...

Sunday, 2 October 2016

How to Raise an Environmentalist

When our older boys were small, we lived in Ankara for a few years. Our lifestyle became urban, and I began to worry that our children were missing out on the experience of being in the British countryside I so loved and missed. Even then, I had heard that, unless children are immersed in the natural world before the age of 12, it will never be a real part of their soul; it will be harder to get them to care about the environment. This is the message conveyed by the article below, with research to support the argument.

When we returned to Britain, I worked hard to get the boys - then aged 6, 5 and 2 - out into the countryside, and they didn't like it much at first. They would pick their way across fields complaining about the sheep poo. But this week, as I watched the middle two in particular - now aged 13 and 10 - walk the coastal paths of Pembrokeshire, enjoying the scenery and the wildlife, I know that my efforts were not in vain. They do love it. They feel it. They care about it. Children need to spend more time outdoors.

How to Raise an Environmentalist

What the Modern World has Forgotten about Children and Learning

"Like wind and weather, like ecosystems and microorganisms, like snow crystals and evolution, human learning remains untamed, unpredictable, a blossoming fractal movement so complex and so mysterious that none of us can measure or control it. But we are part of that fractal movement, and the ability to help our offspring learn and grow is in our DNA. We can begin rediscovering it now. Experiment. Observe. Listen. Explore the thousand other ways of learning that still exist all over the planet. Read the data and then set it aside. Watch your child’s eyes, what makes them go dull and dead, what makes them brighten, quicken, glow with light. That is where learning lies." (Carol Black)

What the Modern World has Forgotten about Children and Learning