Friday, November 17, 2006

Re-post: Child-led: how can they ask to do things they don't even know about? - May 05

From Saturday, May 14, 2005

I've been thinking a lot about Alison's comment to my post of the other day: how can they ask to do things they don't even know about? - because it is a very good question.

Alison's quite right: children can't really ask to do things they don't know about, unless they're being really creative which is perhaps a bit unfair to expect, I agree. But I don't suggest things for my children to do.

I have in the past, made fairly liberal use of phrases beginning with "Why don't you...?" and "Would you like to..?" and "How about we... ?" but I found it produced children who were a little too dependent on me to find their fun/amusement/employment, so I stopped doing it years ago, long before Lyddie was born.

So I got to wondering how they can ask to do things they don't even know about? I think the moot point is how they get to know about things. We have a lot of stuff visibly available on shelves - jigsaws, pegboards, board games, kits and books. They all (especially Lyddie) frequently look at the shelves and get things out to do, or ask for them to be passed in her case. In the older children's case they're completely self-sufficient as regards filling their time.

Lyddie finds things in activity books and asks to do them. She learns from other children and activities at home ed meetings, and she spends time amusing herself with her toys and computer. She also develops learning games, such as pointing at Tom's keyboard and getting him to tell her the letters. (At the end, she tells him "Yes! That's right! You ARE clever, Tom.") and pours over sums in comics. She'll drag someone over to help her with them if she gets stuck. When I go to the bathroom she comes with me and we have to count ALL the tiles - again, this is a game developed and instigated by her.

She is learning as rapidly as bright, healthy 2 year-olds do and she's also very feisty, which I feel to be a very useful characteristic. I think if I did start suggesting activities I'd be told to go away on no uncertain terms.

In the newspaper this week I've been reminded about Prince Charles's famous leaked memo from last year, blaming society's ill's on child-led learning, and Tony Blair has said this week that parents need to be more strict with their children. Of course, I disagree with them both. Yes, society has problems, but I think they stem from the inevitable conflict between the old ways and the new. Our species is evolving. A huge change is underway regarding the way we think and the way we'll operate. It's no longer acceptable to tell or even ask a person to do something and expect it to be done. People will do only what they want to do, when they want to do it and the pre-existing "power-over" establishment can bleat and moan about that as much as they like, but they can't hold back the tide.

posted by Gill at 8:34 AM 2 comments


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