Learning vs. Schooling

Does anyone else have a bunch of saved posts in the Post Writing section that you started and didn’t finish?  I do.  So, I decided to go through some of them and see what I found.  Apparently, I had taken a blurb from a post I had written on a list somewhere and copied it in for further contemplation.  So, here’s the blurb:

Ah, yes, the discovery process of what will and won’t work in your home with the schooling process 🙂 What I learned is “schooling” doesn’t work well in a home unless you want to wear a “teacher’s cap”, which I didn’t. I wanted to be a parent-facilitator, which shifted the focus from “working on” to “working with”, sooo, I had to figure out a “learning process” for our family, not a “schooling process”. Does that make sense?

What that meant for me is to look for those learning moments and be there, and fully use those moments when the children are eager and interested and seeking. This meant that at that moment when I was thinking I was going to get some laundry done, the learning moment took precedence. Needless to say, in our home, housework is sporadic 🙂

I’ve mentioned this before somewhere, probably on my blog, that sometimes I get to wondering if I’m just a lazy person when I see how others are doing all these lessons and activities with their children, especially their small children.  I just don’t, but it works really well in our home.  This post of mine reminds me of why we do it this way:  we encourage a learning process instead of a schooling process.  I like that.  I guess that’s probably why I kept the blurb to write about.

First, in the young years, I SO believe in the idea that play is a child’s work.  So, play is a central part of the learning process in our home in the early years.  During the preschool years, I focus on helping my children learn their colors and shapes; counting and saying the alphabet; all done incidentally and through toys/play usually.  During the 5-7 year old range, I mainly pay attention to the potential for reading and early math such as one-to-one correspondence.  Often, my children aren’t ready to formally learn to read, but reading aloud is a center.  Also, playing around with numbers via manipulatives, natural occurrences, and the such are encouraged.  This is also the age that my children seemed to focus in on one type of play type, whether it was Legos, drawing, pretending, or sports.

In the age range of 8-10 years, I also believe in what Jenifer Fox said in her book, Your Child’s Strengths, that you can’t create the gifts inside your child; they are already in there waiting for expression.  I feel it is my job to provide the opportunity for my children to discover their gifts, and that’s what this stage attempts to do.  What I saw in my children is that their focus solidifies during this stage and a more mature representation of that gift emerges as it is integrated into other subject areas as well as other higher level play outlets.  Reading definitely takes a front row seat during this stage as I facilitate in that direction in the manner and timing that works for each child.  Basic math also is highlighted.  My read alouds also tend to shift toward more educational ideals.

I do love that I get to observe my children in their young years (5-10 years old) enjoy getting the most out of these play stages.  So many today are cut off in the preschool years from unimpeded play opportunities and explorations.  There are preschools with centers, scheduled play dates with friends, and screen time filling in the difference.  I don’t regret one moment the old-fashioned childhood I am gifting my children.  I was listening or watching some program recently (I forget which) where a person was reminding everyone how easy it is to get so busy that we don’t make time for our children.  It was mentioned that a child gets only about 2 minutes a day of individual time!  Ouch.  I couldn’t understand how that could be.  But, then I thought about the typical household of children going off to school and parents to work, so no time there or in the morning beforehand as it is so scheduled to get everyone where they need to be on time.  Then, there are after school activities and dinner to prepare, so there is no time there until after dinner, but then there is homework and parents cleaning up, so that leaves just before bedtime, but so many are using the TV as vegging time, so where IS the time?

I love that our lives are so flexible and open-ended.  I love that there is exploration opportunities and boredom to fill with new ideas, activities, and discoveries.  I love that they each have had their fill of play until it has fulfilled its role in their lives.  I love that I have many minutes to hours of individual time with each child each day, as does even my hubby upon returning home from work.  Because they filled their days with what they need to give themselves as children, when Daddy comes home, they want to give fully to all that he offers them.  Sometimes it’s cuddling together with a good movie, sometimes it’s getting out the balls and bat and playing together, sometimes it’s working alongside him with a project, and sometimes it’s taking a trip somewhere.

Not only has our “learning process”  helped each of my children find their passion and purpose thus far, it has helped each of us live with no regrets.  Time is precious, and we have that and take advantage of it in spades:  individually, within relationships, and as a family!

4 responses to “Learning vs. Schooling

  1. Well said! I’m glad you dragged it out. I can’t hear this kind of thing enough from other parents. It is heartening and makes you happy for their family as well as your own.

    Take care,

  2. Great post, Cindy. I like what you said about the “old fashioned childhood” (not overly programmed) with which your kids have been blessed.

  3. I loved how you broke your experience down by ages. I’ve never seen a good unschooling article where anyone explained what unschooling can look like by age group. I’d be really interested to have this expounded on.

  4. I enjoyed rading your blog! I’ll be back to read some more =)