Free Range Learning
How Homeschooling Changes Everything
Although Free Range Learning was written as a handbook for parents contemplating or already taking the home schooling initiative, any parent, teacher, or professional in the field of education would do well to read this gem. It could change your entire way of living, let alone thinking, as this book asks first and foremost for a more benevolent and serene world. I’m in.
Due to the extensive material I wanted to include, I will split this post into three separate posts. Thisis part two of three. Part three will follow tomorrow, with a fourth post containing all three parts in one. Part one of three was posted yesterday.
|Slow down, and smell the curiosity...|
Trust, Empathy and Cooperation
ü Demonstrating our trust in our children sends them a potent message.
ü This is a continuum that begins at birth. When a parent is consistently responsive to a baby’s cries, the infant forms a sense of security.
ü Infants have a biological need to be held, carried and cared for tenderly.
Ø Deprivation of physical comfort in the formative years is a root cause of violence.
Ø Infants and toddlers often spend many hours a day in car seats, carriers and other restraint devices.
ü Guiding children is invaluable.
ü Controlling and judging children hinders them in ways that we cannot readily see but which harm them nevertheless.
ü If we can truly relax, something nearly magical starts to happen. Demonstrating trust in our children, we too feel it. We become more centered. That makes all the difference.
ü Through eyes of trust we are more readily able to see, really see, how much learning is taking place.
ü We see the uniquely purposeful way our children are maturing as they explore, argue, question, play, and participate in the world around them.
ü A heart-centered lifestyle has to do with being attuned to one’s feelings and intuitions while remaining sensitive to and respectful of other people.
ü When children are brought up in this atmosphere, the best in themselves is called forth.
Ø They are empowered to develop strong values and trust their own perceptions.
Ø They can learn to solve problems without extensive adult intervention.
Ø They don’t have to hide their tenderness, warmth, enthusiasm, and optimism.
ü All children learn through observing and working along side older youth and adults.
Ø They want to gain useful skills.
Ø For example, when a toddler wants to help in the kitchen, he doesn’t want to play with a toy cooking set, he wants to participate in the real work he sees taking place.
Ø It slows down a parent to pull up a stool and let him cut fresh mushrooms with a butter knife—and restraint to avoid criticizing or re-cutting the resulting vegetable pieces.
Ø Staunching a young child’s eagerness to help often results in an older child who is reluctant to do chores.
ü Too many children are deprived of normal challenges.
Ø For example, if a parent helps a child on and off playground equipment for fear of falls, the child is taught that she can’t trust her own body.
Ø These are not messages the parents intend to convey.
Ø Frustration, embarrassment, and a few bruises are normal and important aspects of growing up.
Ø Attempts to make childhood frictionless are misguided.
|I'll read you another story, Pooh.|
The Nature of Interests: In Perspective
ü Thankfully, parents don’t need to have all the answers. In fact, they sustain a child’s curiosity best as facilitators.
ü They provide a home environment rich with reading materials, learning supplies, and ample time for discovery-based learning.
ü They support the child’s interests with resources in the community.
ü They empower the child to find answers.
ü Each child is equipped with an educational guidance system of his or her own.
ü When children initiate learning, they are ready. Motivated.
ü If a child could describe what the state of curiosity feels like, chances are it would have something to do with highly focused energy—akin to awe—a sense of enhanced aliveness.
ü Let your child’s enthusiasm guide the depth of exploration—do not take over and thereby dampen the child’s eagerness. A wise parent allows a child the honor of owning his or her passions.
ü Naturally curious children will learn more than any external reward, punishment, or praise can compel them to learn. Artificial inducements actual interfere with the process of genuine learning.
ü Mastery has a flavor all is own when gained by your child’s initiative. It becomes strong and distinctive. It is theirs alone.
ü The key is to simply whet the child’s appetite, preserving their right to learn in their own way, according to their own interests.
|'Play' should be called 'brain training'|
The Importance of Play
ü Play is generative, transforming the ordinary into something unique.
ü Play imparts advanced social skills and a creative approach to life.
ü The best play is inventive. It gives children a world of their own.
Ø Whether alone or with friends, children have the wonderful capacity to use whatever is at hand for make-believe or games of their own devising.
Ø They have the satisfaction of generating fun.
ü Children who have not had the opportunity for unstructured play tend to resist it, as if they have lost the ability to create their own fun. Restoring a child’s ease in generating his or her own play may take some time.
The Transformation of Boredom into Play and Imagination
ü When children complain of boredom, there is no need to provide them with endless distractions. Distraction is the problem.
ü At the heart of boredom is a kind of discomfort. The feeling of discomfort is an inner signal to pay attention.
ü There is a kind of boundary line—a crossover—between boredom and imagination.
ü We can encourage children to stay with discomfort when they complain of boredom.
Ø Some children may think quietly, some ask questions, others run around.
Ø They are letting in ideas.
Ø Then play or introspection or art begins.
ü Distractions are easy but they keep us from accessing our inner lives.
ü Learning at a young age that we don’t have to resort immediately to distraction adds dimension and depth to a child’s character that can sustain imagination for life.
This ends part 2 of 3 to Free Range Learning. Laura Grace Weldon's website and blog (and Facebook) are active and fresh resources for the interested reader. The pictures used here are from Laura's Facebook page—search 'Free Range Learning'. Look for part three of three tomorrow.
Papa Green Bean