How we do things
I think, nice though it is to have her sitting on my knee so much, this baby might be nearly ready for her own computer. There are just a few issues like the lack of available desk space (but if we tidied up some
Oh, and she can't drive a mouse yet, though I get the feeling she's on the brink of 'getting it'. She had her hand on it yesterday, and I think she realised that she was moving the arrow around the screen. And she did some clicking, but it was very random. But she watches us very closely and copies what we do, so I don't think it will take her very long to learn. Perhaps she needs to sit on my knee with the screen divided into little boxes for a few more weeks, although there would always be someone sitting next to her to do the necessary mouse-driving..
Anyway, scrolling through various home education list daily digests this morning, I came across the comment that home educators using the autonomous method don't often chat about how they do things. Well, I think we're about as autonomous as you can get (I notice there are varying degrees of it, which doesn't really fit with my tendency towards black and white thinking, but never mind) and talking about what we do and how we do things is supposed to be what this blog is about, but it does often get sidetracked, so I thought I'd write a post today specifically about how we do things.
It wasn't the plan, but the first three paragraphs above actually explain really well how we do things. Everything springs from someone - invariably the child - finding an interest and wanting to explore it. We make sure we have the free time (that's possibly the most difficult aspect for some families) for this to happen. And then we just go with their interests, and this leads to endless active learning, quite definitely full-time and always exactly suitable to the child's age, aptitude, ability and any special education needs they may have. It's far more suitable than a preset curriculum can ever be, because children are all unique in their interests and their learning requirements, even day-to-day, minute by minute. You can't possibly plan for what they might exactly need, educationally, because you can't know exactly what that will be.
Perhaps home educators using the autonomous method don't often chat about how they do things because they tend to veer off towards the theory whenever they're trying to discuss the method, as I just did. This could be because the actual practice is so varied from one moment to the next that it's quite difficult to provide an overview and much easier to give examples.
Take Lyddie's reading: she's been going back over her old books, which we're now reading to the baby, and carefully, quietly, reading the words to herself. I noticed her doing it with a nursery rhyme book the other day, so she knew the words and was systematically checking what she knew of the rhymes against what she could actually read. It would never have occurred to me to suggest this, and if I'd tried to adopt it as a teaching method she might have been insulted, but as a self-directed learning process, it's perfect for her just now - obviously, or she wouldn't be doing it.
I didn't get involved, or even show that I'd noticed what she was doing because it would have interrupted her flow. My job as her educational facilitator is to (try to!) know when to interject and when to just let things happen. Again, that's learner-directed: when she wants my help with something - which is often - she comes to ask me, then I go to help straight away. But in a way I did facilitate her nursery rhyme book learning, by leaving the books around and allowing her the freedom, peace and privacy to pick them up and start looking at them.
I didn't leave the books around on purpose in the hope that she would make use of them in this way. I don't really do strewing because even that feels too controlling and contrived to me. Also I did try it for a while, but it seemed to put the children off learning rather than turn them onto it. They can't really explore on their own terms if their path is deliberately littered with obvious signposts making it quite clear that someone has been there already and marked it out for them, can they?