If at the beginning of our homeschooling journey three years ago someone had tugged me into a corner to whisper a certain truth about homeschooling, my lesser self would have balked, pursed my lips together and shook my head in disagreement. Actually, I probably would have been nicer and would have feigned a wan smile and found someone else to talk to at that little party that I just now made up. What that person was telling me was sheer nonsense and it grated against every fiber of belief in my system about how kids learn. It would have really rubbed me the wrong way.
Good thing experience teaches us to open our minds and cast out for broader perspectives! This has been the hallmark of my 40's for sure. I have done more tweaking of my tendencies and knee jerks than ever before. Vestiges of the old me are scarcely recognizable, which is a very good thing. I was kind of uptight then and a follower. Now I stop to listen to a more authentic voice that has been honed over time.
I believed then that kids needed to be taught. They needed to be schooled in a rather systematic fashion in all kinds of subjects; that the teacher had to put forth a great effort to get material into a child's knowledge base. Kind of like applying a force in physics. As we've worked through these last three years, it is with much fascinating irony that I realize most of the time it was me being schooled in what was really best for Max. Just because I'm his mom, doesn't make me an expert on what is best for him. How humbling! He's the expert in that realm and it's my job to pay very close attention to his leanings.
This spring I have loosened the screws substantially and have let him BE. We still tackle math every day (and that is getting way better for all concerned); we read, discuss, ponder, sometimes even argue. He sticks his nose in books and walks away with appreciation for character development and how books magically create movies in your head. He continues to idolize Dr. Who, so I've picked up a few detailed items regarding the making of the series for him to study. He has developed a fascination with how Nerf guns work and has systematically dismantled his entire arsenal to study the plastic and wire innards. He has modified many of them and rebuilt them so they shoot their little darts farther and faster. He tells me he finally understands the trigger mechanism of the Nerf gun. He wants to "mod" this, "mod" that. He needs a workbench.
I have zero/zilcho interest in Nerf. But I have much interest in watching him get utterly absorbed with his hands, his tools, and his brain. What I normally would have deemed unworthy of learning, I have now come to adore its value. Left often to his own whims like this, he grabs onto something and works it over in his brain. More and more space has been carved out for these adventures and it's here that some very real and valuable learning is taking place. It is definitely not taking place on page 127 of his math book!
I've blogged about this subject before, have pointed out the benefits of slow parenting, of leaving breathing room for your child whenever possible. Homeschooling affords that opportunity. Of getting off the treadmill of driven education and just plunking down somewhere to bask in the presence of something worthwhile. Ever so slowly handing over responsibilities for an education to your child. Let him or her deem which path is worthy. It is downright amazing to witness.
We've come a long way in giving him the responsibility for learning. Some with John Rosemond's help, some with Max deciding that he's capable and even willing.
The next time I go to a party, I'm going to find that newly-minted homeschooling parent and whisper the truth (as I see it, anyway) into that person's ear. I wonder if she'll hang around and talk to me!