Friday, March 6, 2015

Cultivating Love for Life Long Learning

It's been a while since I talked about our learning journey so this is gonna be a good one!

A LOT of really great stuff has been happening for us this year in the learning realm!


I'm going to list our favorite resources. (And just to be clear, I'm not being paid to do it.) Most of these resources we have uses through strewing... which basically means, we fill our home with learning resources knowing that our children will discover them... occasionally leaving stuff in places we know it will be "discovered". No force, no coercion, just natural inborn curiosity. I'm going to intersperse these with some of the amazing things I've been privileged to witness and learn from my learners.

One of the most common concerns I hear from people is concerns about how our children will learn to read. Granted, we expect them to learn in their own time, which can feel a little nerve wracking and insecure at times, BUT they have learned. Our daughter, whom I have talked about at length in other posts is now an avid reader despite many learning challenges.
Our son simply hasn't been interested until this year, nonetheless, he is reading all on his own. We read with him and to him every night, these are some of the best books and series we've found. Most of these we found at our library. We started doing a once per week trip this year and it has been just amazing. One of my favorite things.

We had this series on our book shelf. It's a hand-me-down from my childhood. We began reading it together, and it lost my sons attention so we moved onto the tv series. An amazing amount of learning stemmed from this series, carrying on through the whole year... We refer to it as "the year of Little House" as it was a near-obsession.My oldest is re-reading this series again, it's so loved.

 Okay, honestly, I have not read these. My husband has been reading them with our son, and our daughter has whipped through them too. Anything that gets him "hooked" I figure has to be good!
 Again, I love a series that has a movie too. Watching the movie got my daughter started on these. My daughter has been eating them up.
 Math is just not my thing, or my husbands. Sometimes I worry my kids will be super deficient in math. LIFE OF FRED teaches math in story form and with humor. Really cool.

We've also been loving online learning sites- Brainpop, IXL and Dreambox.

GAMES for math are awesome too. Ticket to Ride, Cards, Crokinole, Settlers of Catan, Carcassone.... Seriously, the list could go on and on.

 This may seem a weird shot to include, but following natural learning ideas we haven't pushed our kids to learn to read- trusting that they will in their own time and way. That's where Strewing comes in...
We have ALWAYS had a basket of magazines, books, and comic in our bathroom. I would venture to say most of their reading skills have come from bathroom time!
 I seriously cannot say enough about this series-
ORIGAMI YODA. So Awesome! Star Wars meets origami, meets middle school. Funny and super entertaining!

Spaceheads aka- SPHDZ also had our full attention.

 Oak discovered this one on our very packed bookshelf. It's an old classic reader, and it's an awesome find. Bonus is because he "found" it he was enthusiastic about reading it together and the words were at just his level!
BOY AND A BEAR IN A BOAT~ Okay, I know that sounds super strange but it was, imo, very in harmony with Waldorf style stories. Oak says it was "Peaceful, Adventurous, and a little bit stupid cause there wasn't a proper ending." It was one of those open ending, which I think is kinda cool cause it leaves it open for creativity and exploration.
<<< This one is a treasure. I would actually give it as a gift to new parents. Full of Waldorf stories from around the world, teaches morals and humanities :D and the art work is beautiful!

Of course, building toys, marbles, and letter tiles!
Chalk boards and white boards are scattered throughout our house, messages from BE THE CHANGE cards are written on them. These cards are a GEM! SO SO Cool!

 A ready supply of tactile and crafty supplies: clay, beading, paints, pastels, yarn, scissors, paper, glue,and sewing stuff.

Aaron's Thinking Putty is really neat stuff. This one changes color with a little light pointer, other ones are magnetic or change with heat.            >>>>>>>>>>>>
Exercise has been a HUGE component for us this year. Weekly swimming and skating, scootering to the park and playing ball with the neighborhood kids. I have read about the importance of physical exercise in learning but never witnessed it's influence on growth until this year. Definitely worth making a priority.

This year we discovered Geocaching. Seriously, if you haven't heard of it- google it. Download the App. It's worth it. Exercise, time in nature, and discovery.

Grandpa gifted Oak a microscope which has opened the door to very new learning. Thanks Grandpa!

Our daughter Liv, has been a part of organizing a few community activities too. She's directing a (rather large) group of home learners in producing their own bible Drama. Regularly rehearsing and planning costumes. We've also connected with a great group of Belly Dancing women. These to group activities are free, all it took was connecting with a group of like minded people!

I will add to that instruments. For Liv, playing the violin is something she was able to be successful at even when she was struggling with her learning challenges. So maybe for your learner it isn't a musical instrument that gets them going, but whatever it is that they have success with- I say- Go with it!

This is ZUKO. This little guy has provided tons of science learning. Now I'm not saying run out and buy a pet for science... but caring for him, our fish and our dog have been pretty great learning opportunities!

I'm gonna go out on a limb and talk about screens for just a sec. I know this is a controversial one... Waldorf is all strict and very limiting on it, and on the other end you have the radical unschoolers who are like "no limits ever- learning is learning." I'm setting philosophy aside and just going to say what has worked for us and why. This year we imposed limits, as much as I cringe a little as I say that. The limits are as follows, screen time after 3pm, and free-for-all on weekends- unless it's a learning website. Again, I cringe because we have modeled these limits based on school hours. Here's why it works, before we set these limits, only screen-oriented learning was happening, now various kinds of learning is- and lots of it! It's been a simple and effective limit. Totally worth working through my initial "cringe".

The other thing that's been new is I've returned to school! The kids are getting a look at what a more traditional course looks like, and they are digging into my textbooks with me. It's been really cool. so that's my last thought: model Love of Learning, it's contagious!

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