Trust The Children

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Kid Who Wasn't Reading Well At Age 10

After following a home based education model for all of these years with all 11 of our children, we have stories of success, failure, highlights and lowlights. Some of these stories have achieved "legend" status in our family, stories we use often to remind our children why we persist with home schooling. One was the time when our #2, David, hadn't quite hit Cyndy's expectation for reading. This made for a dual crisis. David and Cyndy. The crisis for David was that his mom was freaked out. The crisis for Cyndy was that her ability as a home schooling parent was being brought into question. Could she really be a good teacher if our #2 wasn't learning to read?

Well, kids learn when they want to learn. And when they are ready they really make progress fast. So here is a little evidence of this boy's "progress" over the years.

Go Here for the Surprise!

After you go to the link, have a great week and be believing.

Mark and Cyndy

Sunday, April 16, 2006

A Small Rudder, Turns A Large Boat

Is there one thing that you can do in your home education environment that will pay more dividends than anything else? Some may debate this, but I am going to tell you what I have observed in our home, that is an answer to this question. The learning activity in our home, that in my opinion has more bang for the buck than anything else, has been reading out loud to our children. This is such a simple thing. But this one choice, has perhaps had more educational benefit than anything else we do.

In Cyndy's daily routine, not a day goes by, that she doesn't read something out loud to the children at home. Sometimes it is newspaper articles that spawn conversation about politics, history, current events or religion. Sometimes, it is a good book that they all are interested in listening to. At Christmas time, I begin looking for a book that I can add to our special Christmas story books. It is amazing how all the kids, even the older ones, the college students, stop what they are doing to listen to dad read.

Each reading session can provide an opportunity to process what was read. We can talk not only about content, but more importantly the value of the delivery as well. How did this author's writing style compare with another one we have read recently? It is fun for each of the children to hear the each other's opinion and evaluate it in their own minds to see if they agree. It is important for our children to see that we validate them, by accepting their view of the the topic, without feeling a need to correct it. If the topic was a moral principle, we would consider our response more carefully.

Others know more why it works. Others may have a more developed plan. Reading out loud is simple, low budget, and effective. If you aren't doing now, add it to your own education plan and have fun.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Strategic Displacement of Parts

Gathered around the kitchen table, we were just talking. Most of the family. While we were talking, Ben, age 15, was busily working on the latest disassembly of something that wasn't working right. Cyndy had purchased at the thrift store a plastic sword. It had noises and hidden buttons. Somehow, someone was "playing" with it and broke the blade. So with that much broken it became an obvious candidate for inspection and disassembly.

It was fun to listen as he would comment, "Oh! there is a button here. I couldn't even see it." Then, "Oh! the on/off switch is right here. Amazing." "I wonder if I can make it work if this wire conducted power," or something like that. I said to him, "Ben is there anything in his house, you haven't taken apart at one time or another, or should I say, destroyed? "

We all laughed and then Ben said, "This isn't breaking things. It is "Strategic Displacement of Parts". We all howled in laughter. Strategic Displacement of Parts. I can't tell you how many times, this has been relived in our home. One reason we moved here was so that we could do this kind of learning in a home and yard that allowed for disassembly, destruction and trial and error.

As I have thought about it, I might label it "Strategic Learning by being curious" or "Strategic Learning by doing" or "Strategic Learning by Parents not freaking out when their sons explore" (in acceptable destruction of things that are truly temporal or temporary). Why buy science kits when the thrift store has shelves of "learning projects" for pennies on the dollar?

Today, I remind all of us, that learning doesn't need to be expensive. The resources may be broken things we have right under our noses. There is something wonderfully simple about what Ben calls "Strategic Displacement of Parts".

Sunday, April 02, 2006

The Map Is Not the Territory

What we see on a map, we often blindly believe is an accurate representation of the reality of the earth itself. True, with satelite photography, maps can be more accurate. But even so, streets change, natural disasters occur and you can easily find out that trusting the map has it's perils.

Cyndy ran into the same kind of thing, being trained as a public school teacher. The instruction she received made assumptions about teaching in the public setting. The things taught are generally accepted as fact. However, as Cyndy actually taught in a grade school, she immediately could see that it was quite different than what she was trained to believe. She saw the light in their eyes go out. And when we began teaching at home we saw that the "school room at home", was more a product of her training, than it was of the best way to help our children to learn.

This has led us, over time, to realize that the limiting factor in home schooling is the map parents have in their minds of how home schooling "ought to be." The map parents have in their minds is often a result of their own experience growing up. It's only natural. The result of this, is parents creating a personal expectation of the "job" of home schooling that they can never live up to. It is parents creating an expectation of their children's learning that is again, hard to live up to. And in the end, it often leads to children back in school full time and parents discouraged with themselves.

The good news is that the map we often have in our minds can be folded up and put away. A new map can be drawn that matches the real territory you have in your home. Your home, your children, your map. As far as the educational side of things, you have all kinds of resources you can reach out to, and one step at a time, create your own map that will, in a wonderful way, meet most adequately the needs of your children in a way, that will be successful and effective in the lives of your children.