Child-Led Learning

Christine over at Thinking Things Through wrote a post about how she started to realize that she was still being parent-vested (or motivated) versus trusting that what emanates from within the child will be worthy of the time and space necessary for the process to evolve into what we are so conditioned to strive for: a measurable product. Here are some of her thoughts:

I’ve begun to revisit the idea of strewing. I think something that has always been an issue for me in the past is that I haven’t used strewing with the right intentions. I’ve strewn things in my children’s paths with the hopes that they would do what I wish them to do with these things. I “plan” it out in my mind, what they will do when they come upon these things. Then it’s just the same as when I’ve planned a whole unit study and my little unique personalities do not wish to learn about the topic as I’ve decided we should. Instead I need to strew with the idea that these things I’m placing in their paths are something I find interesting, something that they might find interesting, something that they can choose to look at/interact with or not. And not have any resentment if they choose not to.

Since I’ve been gone from blogging so long, I didn’t reference some of my blog posts over at Life Without School and her topic went beautifully with some of how I have come to view the process of exposing my children to new ideas, adding to their current interests, or sparking different perspectives worthy of pursuit. My post, entitled “Interest-Based and Child-Led Learning: A Comparative” shares where I feel the differences lies between the two descriptives after I ran into a LOT of homeschooling parents who were doing exactly what Christine describes she had been, and then wondered why it felt flat afterward. I received a perfect opportunity to lead a set of parents, through their amazing young daughter, at a conference last year in what that looks like.

Admittedly, especially since I joined the blogging world, I can get to feeling guilty about what I don’t do with my children when I see scads of wonderful craft projects being made, lapbooks being produced, dictation being copied, or seemingly interest-based curriculum-based resources being utilized. In fact, because we have been blessed lately financially, I find myself purchasing some of these resources thinking they will bring new dimension to learning. But, after the fun of opening the boxes and peering excitedly inside expecting the wow factor to hit, it almost always disappoints within minutes. It simply pales in comparison to the experiences I have witnessed with my children’s child-led use of living books, or their self-created projects that help build their own understanding of what is important to them in their life today, and inevitably, I see it all link when their tomorrow’s come. When will I learn? I guess my conditioning runs deep that I can still wonder after learning at the feet of my children for 16 years (!) . . . Or maybe it’s my left-brained self-interest in sequential learning materials that is actually drawn to the resources . . .

Yet, I don’t see that doubt in my always unschooled young adult children (which I will be discussing in upcoming posts), though it continues to challenge my product-driven conditioned mentality through each stage my children lead me. (Young adulthood is even harder to navigate through the expectations of the world than the 5-year-old stage, if you can believe it, or as you can imagine, depending on your current stage 🙂 )

Let’s see, what are my children doing right now as I pursue my own interests at the computer: my youngest two are out creating a place to camp out tonight on the trampoline, Eli is programming from his new book his dad bought him when he expressed an interest in learning how to create artificial intelligence for his computer game characters, Abbey is driving her brother Alex to the library to find new books to spark his interest, and Adam and Eric are still sleeping (though I’ve been hearing Eric’s alarm clock the past hour . . . LOL!).

One response to “Child-Led Learning

  1. Thanks for coming to read, Cindy, and for sharing your thoughts. I do think that it comes from a combination of fear (for what we think they might miss learning about, maybe?) and conditioning (this is how we’ve always done it, how so many, many people do it) and also just left-brain, sequential tendency! I know it feels great to have boxes checked and lists crossed out. It feels safer to me to know that we’ve done a, b, and c today and tomorrow we’ll move on to d, e, and f. But this isn’t the way for kids, or not for all of them anyway. Still trying to figure it all out. Brought home a ton of books from the library today for more strewing, though! Glad to see you posting again…