Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Help Children Learn: Get Out Of Their Way

It strikes me as I watch my kids interacting with their iPods, computers, DVDs, audiobooks, paper books and other media, that children are determined to learn. What may not always look like learning to a "mature adult" is learning to the very capable brains of children.

What I am noticing is that my children seem to learn by just taking large amounts of information, sorting and making sense out of them by experiencing them.  I think of this as non-linear learning.

The Type-A, stereotypically over-achieving homeschool mom in me has a difficult time believing in such an approach.  I want to sit them down and make them learn what I feel is important, presenting orderly facts all in a nice, neat row. While we have tried that approach and it has been helpful in some seasons, the times in which my children are almost hourly astounding me with the knowledge or skills they have acquired in some area of which I was not aware, is more frequent as we engage in more non-linear learning.

What is non-linear learning? One example from our homeschool would be the times we went to the library, got a stack of Bill Nye the Science Guy videos on a variety of topics and came home and watched them, all the while laughing at his antics (and crazy hair).  No lesson plan, no date by which certain goals had to be met and no huge expectations.  I was viewing the videos as more of a supplement.  However, the learning that occurred was amazing and I learned that sometimes what I have planned for learning for a specific time period is in fact much less than what they would or could learn at their own pace in a fun and interesting way.

I am pleased to report that the combination of happy Mama and happy children makes for a fun homeschool indeed.

(side note: the year in which we did the most non-linear learning, my children did their best on their standardized tests. Coincidence?)

More on this topic to come.

Help Children Learn-Get Out of Their Way

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