Why Homeschoolers Need to Learn to Translate Everyday Activities into Educational Jargon
© Beverley Paine
Learning to translate every day life activities into educational jargon was a turning point for me in understanding the nature of learning naturally. Before then I thought it was my role to provide a huge smorgasbord of activities and knowledge in the hope that my children would find something to excite or interest them. This led to 'burn out' and I felt like I was continually in danger of falling into the trap of edutainment - needing to make learning fun in order to capture their enthusiasm and keep attention high. I felt like an overworked teacher, but with only three children instead of thirty!
Burn out was actually good - it taught me that when I didn't do anything at all, because I was emotionally and intellectually drained, the children still learned an amazing amount, especially the things I considered core values and skills, the stuff around the house, like chores, taking care of each other, looking after pets, etc. I realised that when they initiated activities I didn't need to be involved much at all, except in a peripheral way, hovering in the background, mainly gathering and supplying resources. I spent a lot of time sorting LEGO bricks to enable them to quickly build fantastic models and layouts!
I discovered children are like sponges. When kept wet they don't seem to mop up much at all, but leave them alone and when a puddle happens they soak up so much. I realised that my job was to stop interfering and intervening so much and got rid of the hot-house, smorgasbord approach to education. Let them get on with the business of learning. Our house is an amazingly interesting place, largely because Robin and I are reasonably interesting people with consumate passions of our own. This is what the children needed - a background buzz of productive activityin an atmosphere that celebrated learning.
There are many things we wanted our children to learn. I think it is within the scope of the 'Natural Learning' approach to bring resources and activities in our children's life that they would otherwise not come across or think of by themselves. I'm sure that children would never clean their teeth if we did not insist! It's the same with teaching children how to do simple sums on paper, in order for them to be able to do more complicated sums, should the need ever arrive. First the children watch us clean our teeth meticulously every night, or listen as we calculate simple sums aloud whenever we have the need. Then we invite them to have a go, an an appropriate age for the development (eg being able to get that brush into their mouths with their chubby arms, or gradually introducing simple questions such as "how many people want juice? One, two, three. Can you get three cups please." And so on as the child grows.
It's easy to come up with examples for tots because most of us are really attuned to what and how they are learning at this age! The trick is to begin to think like this again for our older children.
See Beverley's other articles on jargon:
She also has a Practical Homeschooling Series booklet on the subject, called Translating Everyday Language into Educational Jargon.
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