Those who have been homeschooling for a while can probably testify the that some of the best learning happens when, well – you’re not looking! When my kids aren’t doing school they’re playing. However; their playing often involves acting out MANY elements of learning. All you have to do is keep an attentive ear out to things that are going on in the background. For instance just this very second while I was writing this post, my 11 yo dd was explaining (to her sister) an illustration from a book she was reading while munching a bowl of mini wheats. It was an illustration of a few bottles of milk that had been left out in the freezing cold. She proceeded to inform her sister that the stoppers in the milk bottles were rising because of the increased amount of gas that was being forced upwards in the bottle as the milk was freezing. Who notices these things? Let alone points them out? These are the types of things that NEVER make it into our learning reports (I’d be typing all day!), yet these events contain many proofs of learning.
Since we do not have cable television, my kids spend a lot of time in imaginary play (increasingly disappearing in our society, by the way) and reading and learning in many different forms. For instance my 8yo dd has a natural interest in astronomy. Though we covered the learning outcomes for this subject last year, she still likes to naturally explore this subject on her own. For Christmas she received a miniature planetarium (that came with software for the computer) and she has become pretty knowledgeable on many aspects of astronomy. She enjoys birding and geology and is continually learning about these things on her own accord outside of our regular curriculum.
Just last night in the car as I was driving four giggly 8 – 10 yo girls to Awana’s I overheard a conversation that went like this:
Older One: “That couldn’t happen, ‘cuz he would be couldn’t survive going through our atmosphere!”
Little One: “Ummm. I know….I’m just making up a story. But, wouldn’t it be silly if he could zoom and land on the moon?”
Older One: “That’s impossible, ’cause their isn’t enough oxygen on the moon to survive.”
Little One: “Umm, I know, but it’s my story.”
Well, you get the idea. You can see the imaginary play at work, but you can also see the logic kicking in with the older girls. As much as I smiled at at the logic at work, I sympathized with the little one (who could probably write a very funny story).
So, hang in there. If you’re ever worried if real learning is happening, just keep an attentive ear to what’s going on in the background – or the backseat. You just might be surprised!