28 June 2010

unschool monday :: siblings and the creative process

I'm often asked how I juggle home educating two children... they are both at very different stages of development... and how am I going to cope with a new one on the way?!! Well you just do, don't you? You all just roll along and try and remember to be patient with one another. There are always going to be challenging times and other times where you just fly. Just normal family stuff. Usually we are having so much fun we don't have time to think about it! I find that keeping activities flexible and allowing the owlets to take charge of their creative process means we cover all bases and cater to their level of development and their interests. If I restricted what we do to my own ideas, or my own plan, not only would they lose interest immediately, but they wouldn't take it further, ask questions, really learn.

Here's another day at owlet HQ. Last Thursday to be precise. You remember our winter list of ideas? We're over half way through them... best think of some more. So anyway, this particular day we start out with paint. Immediately when they ask to do it, my heart leaps into my mouth and I want to say "no, but its so clean..." But I get down the paint and off we go. Since we're looking out the window so much, how about we paint the windows? Bye bye clean, hello happy owlets! They are instantly engaged, working at their own levels, trying out some writing, enjoying the creative process.

Next up, wool dolls!! Little owlet needs a little more help with this one, but she enjoys the process and loves playing with the doll for ages afterward. They both do. For hours... They act out little stories, entertain each other.

After lunch, we decide to have a look at ice. Its winter, so we've been talking about it. We want to colour some ice cubes. We turn out some that are already frozen and make some new ones. We drop colour in to see what happens when we add it to the water, then freeze it. Then we try salting and colouring the outside of the frozen blocks to see what happens to the colour. Interesting! Lots of discussion about water and colour and ice and temperature....

Now what? How can we use the ice blocks now? The trays will go into the freezer for another day's discussion and experimentation, but the bowl of colourful blocks?

Lets make a picture! We grab a roll of paper and fling the ice cubes out across the table, watching the colour spread as they slide and melt. More talk of cold and colour and water and solids and liquids, more learning and observation.

Now what? Messy inky hands. Lets run a bath!! We put the ice blocks in and they melt in the warm bath which has now turned blue. More discussion, observation... During this process, I offer suggestions but listen to their suggestions and we try them out. There's no room for ego or control. It becomes our creative process, our ideas, our day and ultimately we all learn together. The owlets take in information at their own pace and information is shared among the three of us. Big owlet loves showing little owlet things she has learned and little owlet surprises us with her observations. After the bath? Big owlet has taken to reading little owlet stories. Big win for everyone here. Little owlet loves to listen and big owlet loves to read. She's practicing her reading skills constantly and gaining confidence every day... and I get a little quiet time.

Of course, its not always like this. They fight, like siblings do, but they tend to work it out pretty quickly. They communicate if they need to do something else, or see other friends, do more or less. Today a day where we did less. It was proclaimed "nudie day" and they've played all over the house completely naked... in the middle of winter... lying in a sunny window, making cubby houses, eating fruit, and watching "Little House on the Prairie". Today we watched an episode where Ma teaches at the school, a composite class of about 15 children of all ages and stages... I wonder how she does it?


  1. the ice cubes are such a great idea.
    it's a good thing my eldest can't blog surf yet or she'd be demanding home schooling too !

  2. what a wonderful, inspired post!!!
    My youngest is still quite young, but her big sister LOVES to read to her, and involves her in whatever is happening! While it can be a challenge having two kids at totally different stages, it's amazing to witness them together!
    Love the ice cube painting!!! I'm going to put that idea in storage for fall!!!!
    :) maureen

  3. I love the ice-cube learning progression- fantastic!


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