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**This post is part of the Homeschool Mum Takeaway Series!**
As I stood in front of my classroom, I kept thinking…
What if this was my daughter?
At the time, I was teaching 4th grade to close to 60 students.
But there was one student who really stood out to me.
He was the most compassionate, caring, and hard working student I’ve come in contact with in my 11 years of teaching experience.
But the problem?
He was on a first grade reading level.
Each day I had this student for 2 hours. During that time I was expected to teach him grammar, writing, reading, and social studies.
But for this student, I only had 30 minutes to cram all that into because he was pulled out of my class for 1.5 hours for special services that was suppose to catch him up.
His assignments for me were modified to a third grade level and his assignments in special services were modified to a second grade level.
Instead of getting ahead…
He was getting further and further behind.
It was hard for me to stand back and watch this student struggle because I knew exactly what he needed in order to become a successful reader.
And he had the abilities to be a successful reader.
He just didn’t like to read because no one took the time to help him enjoy reading.
But what this student needed most, was for his teacher to meet him at the point he was at…
A first grade reading level.
It was my job to teach this student how to read and write, but I couldn’t do that successfully because my hands were tied by the system.
I left the school system that year because I couldn’t help but thinking…
What if this was my daughter?
The day I left, I vowed I would always meet my kiddos where they were and help them progress at their own speed.
A New Learning Experience
But it didn’t happen that way.
When Sicily turned 18 months, the teacher in me started to creep up.
It was telling me to teach her colors and shapes because every other 18 month old in those mommy Facebook groups already knew that stuff.
So what did I do?
I headed to Pinterest and spent a whole week finding the perfect activities for a farm theme that would also teach her the things she needed to know.
Satisfied with the activities I found, I spent another whole week prepping the activities.
The day finally came when we were going to start our farm theme.
We walked downstairs and….
She took one look at the activities that I spent 2 weeks getting ready then went to play with her baby dolls.
I spent the week trying to engage her in the different activities, but she wanted nothing to do with it.
Why Didn’t It Work?
Sicily had no interest in farm animals, colors, or shapes.
It’s as simple as that.
So I cleaned it all up and we went back to just playing with baby dolls.
I had made some color swatches during our farm theme, so I just left them out on a shelf just in case.
A few weeks later, Sicily brought me the color swatches. She handed me the pink and said “pink, mama!”
I was so surprised! I never taught her that!
Then she started running around the room holding the pink. When she got back to the color swatches she placed the pink in her hand on the other pink that was laying on the ground.
That was the start of our child led learning.
We ended up playing her little color run/matching game for over an hour that day. By the end of that hour, she knew all of her colors.
That’s when I realized, if I want her to learn…
I just need to follow her lead.
It was the exact reason why I left the public school system.
How We Learn Today
Sicily just turned 4. We follow a curriculum I designed, Learning Through Experiences, which is completely child-led.
I choose activities and themes based on her interests, readiness, motivation, and learning style.
Everyday we’re learning.
It may not be what I want her to learn, but…
Learning is learning.
I’ve learned to let go of the control and trust the process, which is really hard for me.
Today I control our environment. I place things in the environment that I want her to learn.
The environment then controls what she will learn. If it’s not in her environment, how will she develop an interest and motivation to learn it?
Then it’s up to Sicily to decide when and how to learn that skill based on the things I place in her environment.
I create the environment, model, and guide.
Sicily has learned most of her letter sounds and can one to one correspondence to 15 both of which are above the average norm for just turning 4 years old.
She has also learned how to write all by herself.
Since sensory writing activities, sandpaper letters, and loose parts to build letters are always in her environment, she was able to transfer her knowledge to pencil writing without any formal instruction.
I want to end with this quote from John Holt because it sums up the power children have to learn on their own.
“Of course, a child may not know what he may need to know in ten years (who does?), but he knows, and much better than anyone else, what he wants and needs to know right now, what his mind is ready and hungry for. If we help him, or just allow him, to learn that, he will remember it, use it, build on it. If we try to make him learn something else, that we think is more important, the chances are that he won’t learn it, or will learn very little of it, that he will soon forget most of what he learned, and what is worst of all, will before long lose most of his appetite for learning anything.”
Are you ready to start a child-led homeschool? Click here to download our getting started guide.
About the Author
Amanda is the owner of Sicily’s Heart & Home where she helps beautiful mama’s homeschool their kiddos using a child-led approach without spending a lot of time planning & prepping. She is a former elementary and preschool teacher with over 11 years experience. Amanda has 2 kiddos of her own, Sicily & Kade, who follow this exact child-led approach that she advocates. Amanda is the creator of Learning Through Experiences: A Child-Led Curriculum which currently has a full toddler and preschool curriculum with plans to expand up to sixth grade. In her spare time, she likes to read, garden, and relax in a bubble bath.
If you enjoyed this post from Amanda, you should check out her two top blog posts:
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