10 October 2011
unschool monday :: following + strewing
"Oh I could never home educate my daughter. She's so headstrong. She'd never listen to me..." This is one of the most common things people say to me when I tell them I home educate. I always find it amusing... Firstly, because I don't ask them why they don't home educate, but they feel compelled to offer justification. Secondly, because anyone who's ever met my owlets knows they're some of the most headstrong, determined kids you will meet. I could never make them listen to me. I could never teach them. Unless they specifically asked me to. So how do we fit everything in? How do we do it? Do we lead the way? Do we follow their lead?
Well, it's a little bit of both. A balance between following their lead and strewing the path for them. But always responding to a need. Sometimes if we sit back, brilliant stuff happens and they wander freely from one thing to the next. Other times, they need someone to point them in the right direction.
Last week, Big Owlet decided she wanted to camp. On her own. Outside. Reluctantly, we set the tent up, suspecting she may be inside before dark. But no. She took all her bits and pieces, rugged up in layers, and snuggled down for the night. It was a really cold night! We didn't sleep a wink, thinking of our small girl out there all alone. She slept better than ever, emerging to tell me of roosters in the neighbourhood, bandicoots around the tent and bush wees at dawn, under the lemon tree... That's my Big Owlet. Headstrong. Determined. She was afraid, but she needed to do this. And with our trust and support, she did.
We left the tent up for a couple of days and it became a feature of owlet play. It became known as the "Funfair Spectacular... Its Miracula!" (not actual spelling). There was a face painting booth, and inside, a music performance space. A Spiegeltent in my own backyard!
They played there ALL DAY. They wrote signs, devised a ticketing system and currency to pay for the attractions. They role played. Performed music... It was a brilliant exercise in saying yes and following their lead. Beginning with camping. Just going with the flow.
Then yesterday, the owlets were a bit weary. They watched some programs on iView, then proceeded to melt down when we suggested they stop, as they usually do when they've become vegetables early in the day. I asked Little Owlet why she couldn't find something to do. Why all she could think of doing was watching... "Because I don't know what to do, Mama!" She pleaded. Ahhh... this made sense. Strewing hat ON!
We started with the art cupboard. Pulling out the paints. Big Owlet muddled around and didn't know where to start. Then something sparked in my brain about a blog post on Altered Books. An unschooled girl Big Owlet knows and likes has been making some. So I showed her and we checked out some youtube clips for inspiration. We also checked out Lap Books, which are a tool some home schooling families use, but we deemed them to schooly. I showed her an old visual journal of mine which is similar to an altered book in apperance. Big Owlet decided altered books are the go... Then we found an old book each and off we went! An hour of fun, and learning there, at least, to begin with.
Later, I was lying down, feeding Tiny Owlet to sleep, when I stumbled across the next activity in my Twitter feed... LEGO Quest. Fantastic! I loaded up the website, ready to show them if they needed some more direction. Lo and behold, 15 minutes later, "Mama, I'd like to watch now..." So I showed them.
And they loved the idea! They built a garden. Then they went back to the art books. Then they pulled out boxes and more LEGO and they were unstoppable! In the zone! Thank goodness... Back to following their lead.
At dinner that night, Little Owlet said "you know, Mama. I think art is really wonderful. Making art makes me happy". Me too. She's at it again this morning. Big Owlet has already solved another mystery we set for her and she's wanting to learn about art too. Yesterday's strewing has lead to a whole new path of learning for her today... and so we follow their lead.