Monday, December 18, 2017

Child-Led Learning (And Why We Do It!)

             Hey folks! By now I'm sure most of you have noticed that we homeschool. Sure, it's “just” preschool, we're just starting out, and I'm still considering this a “practice year”, for the most part, but it's a lot bigger deal than I could have imagined. These early years lay the foundation for so many important skills for later on: Learning to read and comprehension, understanding basic math concepts, and, hopefully, developing a love for learning. That last one is probably the most important goal I have for Myka this year, above all others. Why should my daughter care about learning anything if it's not fun?
             With that being said, it's even more important to me now to let my 5 year old lead the way when it comes to what we learn about. Some people might this this is crazy (how will they learn what's important?!), but it actually works out. Today I'm here to share with you why it works (for us, anyways) and why you might consider this approach if you're planning on teaching your littles at home too!

Playing with shells and sea critters in their pretend ocean. (I guess Elmo and Big Bird were along for the ride.)

*She gets to learn about what interests her. What better way to help foster a love of learning than letting our kids learn about what interests them, right?

*It's more fun. If kids enjoy what they're learning, they are...

*More engaged. Any kid is going to pay more attention and be more engaged with topics that actually interest them. Plus, for example, how many of us remember reading books in high school English class that we could care less about? Sure, high school is a long way off for us, but I think you understand what I'm getting at.

*Children learn by doing and playing. I know. Crazy concept. Seriously, though. We try to do a lot of crafts, games, and play outside as much as possible and she still learns so much just from that.

*Real life experiences makes for a well-rounded person. Myka loves going places, interacting with people, and helping with things around the house, especially cooking. I think it's just as important for her to learn life and social skills as it is ABC's and numbers.

The mess we used to make marbled leaf fall decorations with turned into a sensory bin afterwards.

*You can still incorporate academics. Oftentimes, it is still easy to “sneak in” academics. Count the acorns you found on a nature walk. What color are the pom-poms we're using for this craft? What are some other things or animals that start with the letter “W” (while doing a letter craft)?

*She gets to learn at her own pace. Again, I want learning to be fun, not forced!

*For the most part (at least at this age), she will learn what she “needs to” regardless. Now, I'm sure as she gets older I will have to incorporate things that she may have not otherwise chosen, but for now, letting her choose works.

*We still end up covering a lot of the same themes that preschools/kindergartens teach...But we probably have a lot more fun with ours. ;) (Can you say dinosaur plaster of paris footprints?! Fun!) Dinosaurs, birds, seasons, ocean life...You get the idea.

Excavating Halloween treasures from an ice hand.

             So far it is a lot of fun to see what she wants to learn about. And, in case you're wondering, most of the time I don't come out and ask her straight up what she wants to learn about unless I'm running out of ideas. I just try to pay attention to what she is into playing at the time or what she finds really interesting on the tv shows I do let her watch. (Wild Kratts is her favorite, so, needless to say, we do a lot of nature themes.)

 She loves doing science experiments, so I try to roll with it. Here we were dissolving baking soda balls with colored vinegar to find what treasures were inside.
             This approach also works out great if, like me, you're not terribly into planning things ahead of time. I'll usually plan things for a week, maybe two at a time, and that's it. It also works out at this age because really, they don't need to be spending a lot of time doing academic things. Therefore, you don't have to plan much. Myka is very much a visual, hands-on, and movement learner, so I try to find activities accordingly, as well as field trips when we can. Honestly, I usually only plan 2-3 things per day...and not even every day of the typical work week!
             Sure, she may still forget some of her ABC's, but she can tell you what kind of bird is out on the feeder in the front yard. She can easily strike up a conversation with anyone and everyone wherever we go. She can even tell you parts of a volcano! So, I don't stress over the academic stuff. She will remember those ABC's eventually and remember that it is called “fifteen” and not “fiveteen”. ;) She is learning so much more than “book knowledge” and “test prep” and enjoying doing so and really, that's all I can ask for. :)
This Is How We Roll Thursday Party

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