Our Style

I baulk at labels, yet we all like quick simple answers sometimes, I 'get' that. So I have come up with four/five terms to summarise our learning life.

1. Enquiry-based and Interest-led learning
2. Holistic
3. Interdisciplinary
4. Concept-based learning

Enquiry-based learning means that learning is a sprouting plant, and the seed was a question. When a child asks, how, why, when, who, what, or simply ponders out loud, we have a seed. It's this seed that kick-starts a learning adventure.

Interest-led learning (I think that I've settled on this term if someone asks about our home education style) means it's not a wholly child-led style. Her interests lead us. This means both that she chooses what she does, but it also means I suggest a lot of options too.

The latter also means both from what she's already interested in as well as something new I think she might enjoy. I search out books, video clips, songs, educational games, reports, documentaries, and any resource or medium that supports and enriches or even extends her interest. She leads the way, but I am pro-active in opening the doors for her (as well as teaching her to learn to open the doors herself).
I don't remember how it started, but around the age of 4, my daughter became interested in the biology of the human body, and became utterly smitten with bones. So (over a course of months) I bought her several books on the body, a toy skeleton, a take-apart human body, a bag of Halloween bones... and more. The interest was all hers, I facilitated the learning.

Holistic. Those from Steiner would say - heart, head, hands. Her spiritual, moral, intuitive, intellectual, emotional, and physical, growth all matter and if I can stretch her learning topic towards these I'm especially glad.

Interdisciplinary means that learning isn't, as much as possible, separated into subjects, such as Maths or Art, but rather many subjects are naturally covered by learning a topic. (I'll probably separate them in posts to help other parents as resource)

Not every learning experience is perfectly like this. Rather, I aim to make learning as organic and true-to-life as possible, and life topics naturally include a wide spectrum of 'subjects'. It's also organic to simply answer a child's question who asks, 'how do I add 4 and 7?'

One of the easiest examples is cooking. In baking a cake together, we have sensory learning, mathematics, reading, fine motor skills, visual judgement, social skills, and science. Some recipes might include historical references or other cultures. Making a burrito? Run to your world map and point out Mexico, and bam, you have Geography.

My girl taught herself reading from Sesame Street videos and following my words as I read her a million books. We never did formal reading instruction. She reads 2-3 yrs ahead of her chronological age.

Concept-based learning is about teaching children concepts rather than facts. Fact-based learning has it's place but the fact stands alone. Learning a concept, such as change or cycles, means that a child's critical thinking is challenged. It means that one learning can be applied to many other areas. The concept of cycles for example can be applied to science, nature, history, or cultural studies. Rather than simply regurgitating facts, a child learns to think, explore, and question, critically and creatively.

Although there is a lot of theory on this, there is not so much practical resources to help us parents. This is a big area I'm interested in so will be sharing as much as I can as I find it, or even develop it myself!


Here are a few videos I love:

RSA Changing Education Paradigms

Ken Robinson - Schools Kill Creativity

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I am also a mom who believes in enquiry based learning. I want to share with you a toy I recently developed and am seeking Kickstarting help. It's a momma goat w/2 kids and storybook that gently introduces children to birth. If you have a minute, please take a look at our Kickstarter page. Thanks! Steph Allosso



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