Natural Learning Happens

Last week I was in need of a break from formal lessons.

“Do you think I could watch a movie with the kids and find a way to call it school?” I jokingly asked my husband.

He’s a bit more relaxed than I am. I have more focus than he does. We balance each other in our ideas. I was tired. Kids were tired. I don’t like to take days off, but I do like to have delight directed days – with purpose and and a list of accomplishments included because I need to see it. 

So I asked again. “Do you think I could watch a movie with them?”

“Sure.”

“But I need a reason. What could we watch and what could I teach from it?” Translate this as traditional school teacher trying to ooze out.

“Because it’s fun. That is a reason. Your job is to make our home a pleasant place to be. The learning happens naturally,” he says.

God must have opened my eyes here, because I normally would have been a bit uptight about just having fun without a “worthy” cause. I’m not good at just having fun. It is something I need to work on 😉  Okay, that was punny.

Being the planner that I am, I had to do something. So I planned a week without formal lessons. I kept a notebook in my room and wrote down all the things the kids did. I spent the time doing things with them, listening more, reading books that they wanted to hear, investing in their interests. I hadn’t told them of my plan. Sometimes on weeks like this I tell them, and they’ll choose some activities that will satisfy my requirements, but this week I wanted to see them naturally. Near the end, E came to me and asked why I wasn’t doing school with them this week. She was concerned that she would be behind. (Yes, I still struggle with this pressure off and on, and unfortunately pass it on to my kids.) I answered her with a list of all of the things they’d done all week on their own: spelling puzzles, phonics games, great stories, science activities, dancing, Scouts, baking, and so on. We talked that night over dinner about the concept of getting out of learning what one puts into it.

This weekend, B, L, and A brought me lists of projects and to do’s of their own choices. So we will be starting off the week with their projects again. We will see where they bring us, and for as long as they are motivated to keep learning, I won’t take over. This is life learning.

I’m focusing on making our home pleasant, respecting each person as a person with unique interests and abilities, and gently guiding them where necessary. The learning is happening naturally.

I’m reminding myself of this quote from Charlotte Mason:

“The question is not, — how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education — but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?”

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