Thursday, November 18, 2010

Follow the Child - Eagles

A tip for the day: Follow your child to ensure enjoyable learning!

In today’s society of outcome-based education it is easy to get wrapped up in standards, planning lessons to provide evidence that goals are being met. Likewise, in our fast-paced world, it can be challenging to wait – to let things unfold as they will. That is why I am constantly reminding myself to follow my children more often than I lead them. Their interests guide their learning so much better than my pre-panning or a boxed curriculum ever could. And, while I know that it is still important to pay attention to learning guidelines (and will be even more so as the kids get older), I truly feel that by that following my children, I encourage deeper learning. Their interests, explored through a variety of media in both spontaneous and, later, planned, activities provide so much learning!

Take this progression, for example:

Luke was interested in elephants, so we began reading up on them, including them in our lesson activities and going to the zoo more often.

During one visit, the kids became amused by a cougar sleeping in a tree. While we were reading the posted information about the cougar, we noted a poem:

Eyes in the front, I hunt.
Eyes on the side, I hide.

Later, when discussing our zoo visit with Daddy, the poem came up. Luke and Nina began testing the theory by asking about many animals, looking at pictures of some – classifying predators and prey. Eventually, they came to eagles. We had no picture of an eagle handy, so we youtubed some.

The kids thoroughly enjoyed some eagle documentary clips on youtube and learned quite a bit about eagles from them, which they continue to enact in their dramatic play.

Luke also began observing the anatomy of eagles more and more, and wanted to make his own eagles. He did this spontaneously using playdough. He also worked on many eagle drawings, with Nina following suit.

So it was learning about eagles unfolded and continues to take shape. Facts. Anatomy. Classification. Dramatic play, Fine motor activities. Gross motor activities. Field trips. Inquiry-based learning. Art. Reading. So much has sprung from following the kids’ interest. It reminds me to slow down and leave space for such things to happen. I encourage you to as well.

How can you follow your child today?

This post is being shared at Helpful Homeschool Hints. Enjoy the other tips there.


Angie @ Many Little Blessings said...

Great tips! It's so easy to get wrapped up in work books and math lessons that it can sometimes be hard (at least for me) to embrace more of the natural learning. I have told many people that I feel like my having a teaching license (two actually) is not serving me well as a home educator.

Martianne said...

It's been difficult for me to let go of formal teaching procedures at times, too. But, I am finding what worked so well in the classroom I taught in needs to be adapted for better learning at home. (I am also realizing what may work better should I ever go back to the classroom!)

Yvette Lewis said...

Great post! I was homeschooled and my parents did this with us (within limits) and I credit it with saving me from my fear that I couldn't be successful in science. My mom allowed me to study oceanography and meteorology, which were my interests, which then led me to accept earth science, then biology and later chemistry. We also allowed our environment to guide our learning, such as noticing huge spider webs sparkling with dew on our fence and starting an in-depth study of spiders. My homeschooling experience was extremely successful, in part b/c of my parents' flexibility and creativity in structuring our studies. Both I and my brother went on to be perfect students in college. I'm a certified teacher as well and am planning on homeschooling my own little boys next year (one of whom has SPD).

Martianne said...

Thank you so much for your comment Yvette. It is so good to hear from a successfully homeschooled person - encouraging as I attempt the journey with my own children. And, it is also good to hear that you are planning to begin homeschooling your own boys. I hope we can stay in touch and share ideas along the way...


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