My kids want to play outside all the time...I mean ALL.THE.TIME. This doesn’t change when winter comes and brings its bitter north winds, dreary clouds, short days and occasional snow. They still ask to go outside, and I almost always reply with an emphatic “Yes!”
As I reflect back on the year, I can hardly believe 2018 is coming to a close. This has by far been the busiest year of my life, and it shows. Not just with the check boxes next to things I wanted to accomplish, but it shows in the (hopefully not permanent) circles under my eyes, the late nights, the early mornings, the ten years I feel I’ve aged in this last trip around the Sun.
As a little girl growing up in Iowa, I am used to snow. We had plenty of it and we LOVED it. When I say “we” I am referring to the kids. Me, my sister, our cousins, and our friends. I’m pretty sure my parents did not relish the white stuff like we did. As an adult, I understand a lot more about my parents because I see things from their perspective. Snow means cold, wet, puddles in the house, extra layers, extra laundry, hazardous travel, the list goes on.
Most schools aren’t designed to create self-directed learners. In order for us to create self-directed learners, we must recognize that learning is an act of individual self-discovery.There is little time for self-discovery when moving from assigned class to class trying to learn a curriculum that you didn’t have any part of designing.
We’ve all heard of Thanksgiving leftovers. I love them. Turkey sandwiches, pumpkin pie for breakfast. You know the drill. But what about Halloween leftovers?!? Around here, we don’t get any trick or treaters at our house in the country, so I never buy candy for us to have around the house. Never fear, Halloween leftovers can be put to good use, in fun and even educational ways.
Research on motivation to learn has been growing for decades. Researchers, educators, and psychologists are finding more and more evidence that support the critical role that motivation and engagement holds the key to learning.One theory in particular, called Self-Determination Theory (Deci & Ryan, 2000) suggests that there are three psychological needs that must be met in order to learn at an optimal level: Competence, Autonomy, and Relatedness.
So our school year started the week before Labor Day, and it started very differently than it is playing out now. We began the year with a fresh school room, fresh school supplies and fresh can-do attitudes. Our first day could only be described as ideal, refreshing, and fun. Our word for the year was perseverance. Seems ironic now.
We took a much needed mini-vacay at the beginning of the week. We didn’t travel far, but relaxation took over the moment we pulled out of the driveway and headed south for our neighboring state. Our minivan was loaded to the gills with sleeping bags, firewood, cookout supplies, and children. Not even room for the dog :) It was Arkansas or bust.
Most of the time, the homeschooling mamas get to take all the credit for their children’s education. After all, we do the day to day teaching, feeding, nurturing, planning, refereeing, playing, organizing, shuttling, field tripping...you get the idea. At least that’s the way it goes in our family. We mamas put in a full day and then some.
Our homeschool room used to be our playroom. Now it is dual-purpose. Join me on a little tour, but keep in mind, probably only 25% of our learning takes place here. It is nice for gathering, reading, practicing handwriting at desks, and it gives us a place to collect our books, nature treasures, and toys. Plus, the kids like having desks to call their own.
Our family has had the privilege of knowing Lauren Lockwood for many years, since we moved to the area and she was just a blonde little girl with four busy little brothers. She came to nature classes at the museum where I worked as an educator...and that is how I got to know her. And boy, to know her is to admire her. She has grown into a lovely young woman who is helping to preserve nature and wildlife for the next generation. Now you can get to know her, too!
In observing my kiddos, I have noticed they all explore differently. Part of this may be dependent on age, maybe even gender differences. But, I think most of it can be attributed to them being individuals with different personalities, needs, and objectives.