Thursday, January 09, 2014

Learning jags

I've been on a bit of a reading jag here recently... if you hadn't already noticed. As I've been thinking about it, it's how I function pretty much all the time. Get consumed with something, spend every moment of free time doing it, losing a bit of interest, and moving onto something else with the whole cycle starts again. My family is rather used to it and are pretty OK with it since I still manage to keep everyone fed and dressed. Usually. It's also how I functioned in school as well, though it wasn't always good for my grades to become consumed with the class I was auditing and not the class I was being graded in.

I have also noticed that in several of my children, they tend to function the same way. Being really interested in one thing, working on and reading about that one thing to the greater exclusion of the rest of their schoolwork, then moving on. I have learned to try not to interfere too much in this process as it usually averages itself out in the long run. It also helps to know the child since there are a couple of them that I know will never cycle through math and so I must be more insistent that they get to that subject. With other children, math will be part of the cycle, but another subject will not, so I need to be on top of that.

It is kind of like the education version of the toddler diet. You know the toddler diet... while being notoriously picky eaters, eventually given enough scope and opportunity they will eat a balanced diet. You have to look at it over a longer period of time, though, because the day-to-day diet doesn't seem all that varied. It's not much different with my children's education.

And even if they weren't able to get to every subject over a longer period of time, there is something to be said for learning one topic deeply. When you become so engrossed in something that you lose yourself in it, you are learning the true joy of learning. (What Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi terms 'flow'. [My public service announcement. I have asked J. how to pronounce this name so many times I can now do it. It's 'Mee-high Chick-sent-mee-high'.]) It also teaches you to dig deep and stretch yourself. Usually the more intensely you learn a subject, the more difficult it becomes. You stop with the easy and facile, and start to really work. If you learn to do this with one subject, the skills transfer to other subjects. And as you learn more about one subject, it opens up new avenues to pursue that are often only tangentially related to your original subject. Often you find yourself learning about things you didn't even know existed. Learning becomes an adventure.

I think this is what I find most appealing about homeschooling: Learning and discovering can remain an adventure and not just something that is required. It can allow a child to pursue his or her own bent. Sure there are things that still have to be done even if they aren't favorites, but even these are helped by the experience that learning can be enjoyable.

I'll also piggyback on yesterday's post a bit. If you want your children to be adventurous, enthusiastic learners, be one yourself. Have you learned something new recently? Have you been excited by a discovery that you share with everyone at the dinner table? If not, why? Pick something you're interested and learn about it!

(Don't you love how I have just justified my own little quirks yet one more time?)

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