We have continued school through out the summer by working on flash cards and Maddie has continued to read chapter books through out the summer. Maddie loves science and I knew she would continue reading different books on nature, animals, and anything else that has to do with science. The twins and I have been reading books of all kinds, they have been drawing and building their hand muscles, getting them ready for being able to write their numbers and letters.
My goal is to usually start school by at least the beginning of August, but this year we started earlier. My goal in starting
earlier was to be able to give my kid’s the free reign I had been wanting to give them, but was hesitant and even fearful that they would leave all learning behind and become absorbed in playing and engaging anything that wasn’t learning. That is not at all what has happened, in fact I have been down right blown away. Instead of withdrawing from learning my kid’s have taken the space I have given them and has run with it. Maddie has engaged even more in her love of science. Today is Monday and I try to ease into our week, especially if we have had a busy weekend. Today I told our kid’s they could do anything they wanted this morning so long as it had to do with learning. Maddie engaged in science experiments with water, then continued with it after lunch. The twins got out the markers and started drawing and trying to write.
What I have learned by giving my kid’s free reign is that they want to learn, they desire to learn, but they want to learn about what interests them. They want to learn what they are passionate about and when they are allowed the freedom to do so, they flourish and come a live. When given the freedom to explore, get messy, read what they want, pretty soon they are writing their own sentences, figuring out that life really requires math, and that maybe sometimes mom and dad really do know what we are talking about. In giving our kid’s freedom I have seen and heard them come alive like I have never seen before.
We still have some guided learning, but I have begun to see my place in their learning as more of a mentoring role rather than a teacher or a do this because I said to do it. Maddie’s goal in life right now is to be an animal trainer and she has been reading a ton on animals, habitats, etc. Her and I have also sat down and hashed out why she would need math if she is going to train animals, we have discussed why learning how to read a map is important, and what importance reading, writing, and spelling is important. As we talked and we realized situations that would require her to know all these things, it gives her a reason, it makes what she is doing applicable and she is more passionate to engage even more in taking charge of her own learning.
I have to admit I was nervous and unsure how to go about giving my kid’s free reign in their education, what it would look like, if they would learn what they need to when they need to. But, who do we think we are telling our kids what they are ready to learn. I remember my sister telling me about a time she was reading a book called My Brother Sam is Dead in junior high and instead of encouraging her, a teacher told her it was over her head and there was no way she could really be reading it. This makes me want to whack the teacher. Instead the teacher could have engaged her in digging deeper into the story, encouraging her in the way she learned best. This teacher had a chance to inspire my sister, instead he did a good job at trying to smother her passion to read. The more I teach my kid’s and watch them learn, the angrier I get at how the school system handled me. I was the kid that knew just enough to fly over the radar of being special ed, but the reason I flew above it was because I had parents working with me at home. Parents encouraging me and helping me to rise above where I was. I am learning that had I been given the time to learn what I was interested in, passionate about, I would have soured in all the areas I struggled with in school.
I am impressed and in awe at the love of learning my kid’s have developed by taking away what I expected them to learn and asked them what they wanted to learn. By opening up their learning time and allowing them to perform science experiments, read chapter books, paint, draw, build lego towers, and draw in the sand box. I certainly don’t have it all figured out and from what I have learned in the past it is bound to change and shift, but I am excited to help my kid’s dig deeper into their passions, deeper into their dreams, and goals. If I had known the joy my kid’s would get from loosening the reigns, I would have done it a long time ago.