Write it Down

When we first started home education we weren’t obligated to notify any particular authority or submit records for review. It was wonderful, simple and organic without the pressure and stress that I now understand comes with all the measurements, record keeping and reporting. At present we live in an area that requires notification, and reserves the right to demand reports on a whim so things have changed a little and there’s not a lot I can do about it, but I do have a couple of things to say on the matter.

A few things happened when I started to record the minutia of learning and growing, the day to day of ‘education’. First, something positive., It was reassuring and to any outside observer would simply be astounding to see just how much learning a child will do on their own, without prompting or pushing. Recording every learning opportunity on a daily basis provides us with justification and proof beyond doubt that child-led learning at home works, and works well. But unfortunately, having to write down everything the kids do re: education, and writing down what we as parents are doing to facilitate that education, along with the resources we are using and the categories each educational experience slots into (critical thinking, language arts, math etc etc.) had a stunting effect on the natural progression of our day and I believe it’s detrimental to the children. They don’t need records to be sure they are learning something, and when they see me dutifully logging a particular activity under it’s appropriate curriculum based category it seems to undermine the innate joy and effortlessness of learning.

The hard part though about keeping daily records of learning ‘at home’ (anyone who home educates will laugh with me at the at home bit) is that eventually there will be a day when the page will be blank. When it will feel like you aren’t doing enough or anything at all. Then you start to doubt. I had one of those days today. We’d planned a library trip that went bust, and my first thought was ‘Geez, now there’s nothing to log for today.’ I needed to give myself a shake and remember what I tell everyone else who asks: learning isn’t planned, doesn’t need to be scheduled, and happens anywhere and everywhere. Like when we left the library parking lot and instead just wandered downtown for a while, seeing interesting people, reading shop signs and enjoying the crispness of early fall in the city. And then when we stumbled across a very cool display at the biology dept of the local university, and saw some taxidermy including a very cool Greater Albatross and a Scarlet Ibis, a Peacock and a Blue Crane. When we cut though a small greenhouse we looked at hibiscus trees and cacti and aloe vera plants. Our oldest surprised us by identifying a tree and telling us about it’s large papery cones that have a sticky substance to attract ants- where they then drown in the water collected inside. How he knows this I’m not sure, it’s not in the log book. 😉 It’s certainly not something I knew about, and I’ve got a full public school education and a couple of stints at post-secondary edumacation in my records.

So our day was essentially spent doing nothing, yet nothing could be less accurate. True we didn’t sit down and do anything at a desk. If I’m honest I remember very little of what I did as a kid sitting in school at a desk, writing industriously in my workbook. But what was experienced by my kids today will be remembered, simply because it wasn’t education, it was learning.

Speaking of Education, I just purchased this documentary film “Schooling the World” and can’t wait to view.

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