23 March 2012

Adventures in Autonomous Education

At this point in our home education journey, with my eldest child just four years old, I follow the path of autonomous education, or letting the child direct what is covered and when. At this age, I don't believe in rushing him, especially since I know that pushing him causes him to refuse to do what I'm pushing, sometimes for months. I certainly don't want that to happen with learning, so I don't use, but offer to teach and provide opportunities for learning. This can be through reading (something we do quite a lot), talking about various things we see, going to the zoo, attending Mass, or just playing at home or with other children.

I am occasionally asked if I've started school with Kieran. It's an interesting question, really. No, I haven't started formal school, as most would define it. However, if one uses a broader definition, then I have started school with him, and did so years ago, for every day provides an opportunity to learn. I tend to believe that by exposing my children to various things and trying to instill curiosity, they will naturally want to learn.

Today Kieran proved that for me. This morning he declared that he was looking up words in a book. I think he can recognise certain words (he isn't one to show off his knowledge, so I'm sometimes taken by surprise by what he knows). I asked if he wanted me to teach him to read, and he said he did, though he then asked to play a game. This evening, though, both kids were drawing when Kieran suddenly declared that he'd drawn a seven - and he had! After that, he wanted to draw an H, but was having trouble, so he asked me to show him. He proceeded to draw a few more before asking me to show him how to draw an F and a C. He lost interest after that, so I let it go, knowing he will come back to it when he's ready.

So far, autonomous education is working with us. I won't lock myself into one educational philosophy or style, for his needs or learning style might change, or we might find that it doesn't work as well with certain topics. And of course Charlotte is her own person, so a different approach might be needed with her. But for now, I'm enjoying this adventure.

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