Monday, November 16, 2015

Joy in Learning



I am an ADD homeschooler. Maybe all homeschoolers are a little bit. We have the unique ability to ebb and flow with the needs and space our family is in. In my best moments, I am organized but flexible with the attitude of "children will learn what they need to know if exposed to a variety of information in a way they can absorb". This is a very un-school mentality, and a general belief system of education that I subscribe to.

And then I freak out, sure my children will end up stupid with no future prospects and living in my basement playing Minecraft, dressing like My Little Pony and eating cheetos until the are 40.

This is not my best space. I make dumb choice in this space and drive my kids to do monotonous things they hate and pretty much act like a fun sponge, sucking all the joy from learning. This is usually triggered by hearing what my friends kids are doing in school, like math facts and spelling lists and required reading time.

I have started reading a new blog over the past couple of weeks, an American teacher who moved to Finland to live close to his wives family and now teaches over there. In case you haven't kept up, American schools don't test so well internationally, but Finland seems to hold its own pretty well and has for quite some time. So what do they have figured out that we seem to miss? Things like almost no testing until you FINISH HIGH SCHOOL. The don't teach children to read until age 7 unless they want to learn before. They have daily instruction in fine arts. Kids learn how to cook, budget, clean and other life skills.

Woah.

Most mind blowing? Teachers are allowed to teach in a way that they see is best, teachers work together to make lesson plans and, overall, teachers WORK LESS than American teachers with better outcomes. They are given goals like "a child should find joy in solving the equation". Joy. In math. Its a thing, people, a thing they work to develop.

Finland has figured out that testing helps no one and there is more than one kind of smart. They figured out children learn best from a place of JOY not fear of a test, or shame of failing, but in JOY OF LEARNING.

I am not sure why this is blowing my mind, I mean, I already try to parent from that head space. I try to remember that children in secure relationship generally want to please and have a joyful, peace filled home. Parenting from a space of intimidation, shame, and fear undermines our wiring of needing to have real, vulnerable relationship. And parenting is just teaching a kid how to be an adult, so why would any other learning be different?

I have yet to have a child who really gets the reading thing really quickly and easily. My kids struggle at it, work at it, and get frustrated. Maybe I suck at teaching reading. This is a distinct possibility, as I am the common denominator. Anyway, I have been successfully making reading miserable for one of my kids. We both hated it. Great job, mom.

Today, I remembered joy. We started with sight word bingo, went on to a picture/word card challenge for candy, and then used the pocket chart for math and science. Know what? I heard my kids giggling, challenging each other and helping the other one succeed. We were silly. When it came time to work on cursive, the kids finished in record time and they had JOY.

Why do I find this so hard to remember? I enjoyed my kids, the house was peaceful, they had fun and they learned. So this week, I choose joy in learning, and I will try to keep my math facts freak outs to a minimum.

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