Friday, January 27, 2017

How far do you take "interest-led" learning?

Part 2 of 5 Questions received after the Philippine Homeschool Conference 2016.

 Do you pursue every interest your child mentions to you? The question sounds dreadfully tedious. I am a supporting role when it comes to my children's interests. Its awesome when I happen to be interested in what they are into, but if I am not, then I just let them be. They have the freedom to take it as far as they want because they do have the time for it. Our only fixed academic work is Math. And how long do they work on Math:
For my 16 year old its about 30 minutes to an hour depending on the lesson and the lecture from Mondays to Fridays.  
For my 12 year old, it's 45 minutes Mondays to Fridays, and 
For my 8 year old its about 30 minutes on M, W, Th, F . 

Whatever they are interested in is also what we talk about, laugh about and ponder on. Everybody in the family gets to pick up something from the other's interest. And this is where I come in; to listen, give feedback, make sure its safe and look up resources that I show them. Some interests stay for years, others weeks, days only. There is no need for a paper or a quiz or an oral recitation to check on what they have learned.

Here is a sample of  pursuing an interest: Last year, my third daughter rescued a hen and a rooster that she named Beatrice and Axl. The hen, Beatrice laid eggs which got her into reading about chickens.

Correction: more than 3 eggs were laid 2 hatched but only 1 survived

Now she is still at it. Bebitka, the egg that hatched is so loved. So far, aside from feeding Bebitka, there are dance moves, a sort of lullaby and games for the beloved chicken. If you happen to be interested in chickens you might like this blog. Here is the latest photo of Bebitka. I still can't believe my daughter can carry the chicken with such confidence!
Bebitka wrapped in newspaper because it is a cold day. 
When they are interested in something they naturally talk about it, and it gets everybody in the house a bit into it too. The next thing we know, we have invested in it already: a field trip,  a book, we visit a friend or enrolled in a class etc. I think it is vital to have enough space, physically and mentally that they are able to say: let me go try that or I want that, or I will do that. 

If you are thinking about interest led homeschooling go ahead. It does not mean that you won't initiate or introduce topics but do lay low on the lesson planning and scoring/ grading work.  Instead go for feedback, conversation and experiences. Prepare your heart and mind to learn with your child and discover what they can do. I often find myself being taught.

What if what they are interested in is wrong? Then they are likely not going to talk about it openly. People make mistakes and it happens that young people can choose unwisely. What's wrong is wrong.  Instead of punishing and judging its better to retrace one's steps, understand why the decision/ action is wrong and move forward.

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