Home schooling…. continued

So here we are, settling into our fifth year of homeschooling with our two children, now ages six and nine.  It is a revealing process to take a look back at the different levels and styles that we have tested, tried on, tossed out, waded through, or dived into.  It is clear that at different times and phases, different routines have worked better than others, but just like a shirt that becomes too limiting, these routines get tossed aside in favor of new colours and patterns.  The challenge for me lies in remaining unattached to the way I think learning suits my children, and allow for the readjusting of their own learning methods.  The fluctuations of these methods expands our ability to be adaptable and able to ingest information through our many senses and neurological pathways, many of which are still being developed in young brains.  Of course, there are foundational learning aptitudes that reside and dominate in every person, from active and reflective, sensing and intuitive, visual and verbal, and sequential and global  (from Felder and Soloman’s Learning Styles and Strategies ).  Knowing these natural learning styles in yourself and in your children is very helpful when considering the type of structure and routine that you may offer to your homeschooled children.  However, being open to the broadening scope and explorations of newly emerging learning styles throughout the growth of your children is imperative to their own understanding of themselves.  For instance, Taeven was a workbook enthusiast in the last few years, being happily fulfilled by completing a set number of pages many times a week.  In the last 6 months however, she has decided that she retains nothing from workbooks, and while I am sure that what she retains is not necessarily the information but the practice of absorbing directions and working out the answers through a certain style of thinking and deducing, she wants to move on to experiencial and sense activating styles.  So while workbooks make my life easy, I will be putting more energy into offering her activities that are hands-on and appeal to her physical realm of absorption.  Creating a learning environment that incorporates a wide range of learning styles helps the development of all these parts of our brains as we grow, and effectively opens the doors to the endless possibilities of understanding our world around us on many levels, including an increase of our own connection to the world.  This can be difficult in a class setting with one teacher versus many students, and can be overwhelming as one mother at home with domestic chores, house building projects, meals to make, food to grow, and kids to attend to.  The bonus for parents is that most of the time, these natural aptitudes are intuitive to us- we know our children and often don’t need to intellectualize their abilities.  We understand how they work (most of the time) and take care to figure out what works best for everyone, whether it is jump rope counting, fort building, workbooks, dance, knitting, creative flurries of paper and scissors, or roman aquaduct studies through a correspondance program.  Being able to acknowledge what we know intuitively can help us navigate through times of fluctuations and change – recognizing our children’s need to learn things in a new way, or recognizing that they are becoming dependent on learning in only one way, can help us switch gears and look for new opportunities.  Being aware of the various ways in which learning is absorbed can also provide ideas about new activities.  For example, we seem to focus a lot on music- by placing the subject of music, into the outlines of Felder and Soloman’s Learning Styles and Strategies , it broadens my awareness of the many ways in which music is presented and absorbed for both Taeven and Cedar, and to notice the different ways in which each of them most easily pick up certain concepts at different ages.  Taeven and Cedar absorb a lot about music just by listening, but we also take violin lessons which are taught by ear and by written notation, in private lesson environments as well as in groups,  exploring melodies, harmonies and rhythms, improvisations and scales.  We explore music from around the world, write our own songs, struggle with the idea of practicing, and learn that making mistakes is all a part of learning too.  Each of them connects with music more readily through certain ways, but by offering the full spectrum when we can, we seek to engage the many amazing ways in which we understand and integrate our intricate and beautiful world.


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