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This post is my contribution to the Homeschool Mum Takeaway Series!
“Child led learning. What is that?”
Everything I read about child led learning when I first set about my research into educating my children at home, left me believing that there was no place for worksheets, text books or curriculum in this method! Maybe sometimes I got confused between child led learning, interest led learning and unschooling. Back then I was just trying to digest every bit of information I could.
The overall impression I was left with, was that curriculums were unnecessary and anything that resembled typical classroom, sit down type work was a great disservice to children.
I had actually come across a lot of amazing homeschool resources online, but I kept steering myself away from them telling myself “That looks great but that’s not what I want my homeschool to look like.” Curriculums were bad. Life learning and exploration of subjects inspired by interests were good. The best thing I could do for my kids was to steer clear of workbooks and curriculums.
So that’s exactly what I did for the majority of pre-k with M with the exception of one specific book which ended up being a kind of catalyst to the shift in my thinking.
My next step towards using curriculum’s was when I began looking for a way to encourage M’s interest in instruments. More specifically the violin! I began asking friends and scouring the internet for something I thought M would enjoy. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was looking for but eventually came across SQUILTmusic. Reluctantly I chose several of their resources to purchase and both A and M loved them!
I didn’t set a regular schedule or lesson. I just set out the flash cards, worksheets and opened up the laptop one day for them to take a look at. Every day after that, they asked to do a little more. In fact, on a few occasions when we had other things going on, tantrums were staged in a bid to get me to let them watch the next orchestral piece or get the flash cards out!
“Wait hold on! A music curriculum and online resource that my kids were begging for?!! How could something that they enjoy so much and that sparks their desire to learn be bad?
So, I Began to Experiment….
Fast forward a few more months and my internal curiosity kept drawing me to look at several homeschool resources. I came across some in Facebook groups and recommendations from friends.. At the time M’s love of storytelling and interest in learning how to write them down, left me again, wondering how to support and encourage M in this area.
Long story short, after lots of toing and froing, I got my hands on WriteShops Primary A Book Set! It was the best decision I ever made. M loved it so much and I wrote a full review in our positive experience with it! M’s desire to write went from strong to unstoppable. He would sit and focus on writing for 1.5 hours some days, not because he required to but because he was inspired to!
Curriculum’s Can be A Tool For Child Led Education
Like the world at large, everything has its place and the same can certainly be said about homeschool curriculum’s. When following a child led model of education you should approach curriculum’s in several ways:
- They should be chosen with the child’s interests and desires in mind.
- Be sure to present them without force. A great way to do this is through strewing – a term used to describe placing interesting materials, books and other resources in locations that catch your child’s attention and to be used when they are inspired to do so. For example, dining room tables, in their toy boxes, bedroom night stands etc.
- Curriculum’s should be used as a resource to draw from rather than on a strict schedule. They certainly shouldn’t be used to change your homeschool into a list of skills and knowledge that needs to be ticked off of a list, completed in order and in a particular time frame regardless of you child’s current abilities and level of interest!
The Way Forwards
I don’t regret for one moment giving our boys a very play based pre-K and first year of Kindergarten. In fact most of their learning is still the result of play and exploring the world at their own pace! I plan on keeping it that way for the foreseeable future! It is true however I am glad that I now recognise homeschool curriculum’s and resources for the tools that they area by helping our children delve into topics of interest when they desire too!
Curriculum’s are not the enemy; they are a tool. They are most certainly compatible with child led education!