Interest led learning is not about letting your kids call all the shots while you sit back and do nothing...hardly! It seems easy, but it is successful only when we as parents are actively aware, engaged in, and fully supporting what inspires our kiddos.
My older girls are very different from one another. Although they like to do a lot of the same things (reading, crafting, playing games, and photography) each has her own unique personality. One of the best things about homeschooling is that we have the freedom to celebrate each girl’s uniqueness rather than try to shape her into what others see as “normal” or “average” for that particular age. There's no limit placed on their potential.
Then we have three preschoolers in the mix. Three littles that haven't been with us since birth and haven't always had a stable, nurturing, and secure environment to grow and develop within. They have healing to do and a childhood to enjoy as they gradually make gains in their physical, social, emotional, and intellectual development. And what's truly most important for them right now?! To feel safe and valued, to know the love of God, and to be free to explore and learn without fear or stress.
In our home, we are free to learn what we choose when we are ready for it and while it is interesting and meaningful. It means that the older girls might not pursue the same things at the same time as other kids of the same age. It doesn’t mean that my husband and I don’t ever present challenging information or tasks to the girls or give them an assignment (we do, and then we often work through or discuss it together:) It does mean that we are always looking for teachable moments throughout the day where we can show all of the kiddos something new or open their eyes to something they may never have noticed before.
Interest led learning means we see learning as a normal part of our day...exploring new things, researching, or practicing new skills are as natural to us as eating breakfast or getting dressed. Because we treat learning as an innate part us, the girls know that they are free to be who God created them to be as they grow and learn at their own pace (and the littles are quickly catching on to the freedom of a learning lifestyle that leaves lots of opportunities for play and discovery). There's freedom in knowing that you are fearfully and wonderfully made and that your significance doesn't come from awards or straight A's. And there's freedom in knowing that there’s no race to start a phonics program with our five year old, use textbooks with our middle schooler, teach benchmarks, or keep up with what everyone else is doing.
I'm not concerned about my kiddos learning just the basics. I want to see them to flourish instead…to develop to their fullest…to be passionate about learning...to see the potential in every situation...to be creative and to think outside of the box. We encourage them to learn at home in a way that jives with the unique design that God created within them. That means M. may spend a great deal of her day…reading for pleasure, taking photos, making music, baking cupcakes for her cupcake business, talking and asking lots of questions, or watching educational videos. On the other hand, A. can be found working on first aid certification, writing a book, cultivating her photography skills, working in her art journal, or quietly holed away in some part of the house reading a non-fiction book. And the littles can be found making giant messes as they act out whatever fairy tale I just read, creating blanket forts, playing zoo or doctor, experimenting with musical instruments, designing play-doh creations, or helping me cook in the kitchen.
And like I said earlier, the best part of homeschooling to me is the freedom to embrace our uniqueness, so what works for us might not work for others but I do love sharing a glimpse of our journey:)
5. M.'s butter cupcakes with chocolate frosting are my new fave! She rocks in the kitchen at just twelve years old:)
6.-7. We had a sick one for a few days, but she made it fine with the coloring sheets made just for her (by A.), the Kindle, her Little House book, and the lazy cat to keep her company.
8.-9. I love two (most of the time;) and the wonder of having a toddler, but having a fourteen year old who can clean the kitchen for me...well, that's priceless!
10. Our neighbors have a new horse. M. is smitten:)
11.-12. We were the only people at the park in the ice and snow but we had to get out, and I was so glad we did.
13. Creating project boards to display their photos at our homeschool group's Talent Show/Art Expo.
14. The older girls and I are re-reading the Little House books at bedtime...it's been years since we read the books and toured the homesites. They had forgotten a lot of it, so it's been fun to read them again. It's a lot like catching up with old friends you haven't seen in a while;)
We decided to start a pioneer unit study together with ideas from this free study, and our nightly journal pages that we do together are from here (a great source for free doodle, listing type journal pages for older kids or adults).
15. The girls and their friends created an impromptu quartet with two ukeleles, a guitar, and the piano and learned a song together in a couple of hours:) Ah...perfect example of this interest led learning!
"Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don't know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!"
Linking up here today...