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Things kids learn from following their own interests - Page 2

post #21 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lillian J
Note added later to clarify: The idea is that someone posted in an unschooling thread that she didn't feel as if she exactly "fit" into either talks specifically about "unschooling" by name nor ones about curricula - and she expressed that she'd just like to hear more about how children learn from their own interests.
You know, what works for some people who can't quite see how a child could learn what they need to know from what interests her/him is relating it to something they've learned on their own as an adult. My mother, for example, took up the button box accordion when she was in her forties. She saw a woman playing one at an Irish festival one year and was entranced. She watched her perform several times over the weekend, then went home listening to the cassettes. She found a beautiful diatonic accordion and started to teach herself how to play. Of course, she started out knowing absolutely nothing - just playing around with the box until she could make a few notes. It was slow going, but she persisted because she had fallen in love with the instrument. After years of practicing, talking and playing with other accordionists, attending workshops and conferences, and busking weekends in downtown Austin, she's well respected in the global button box community. She’s hosted accordionists from all over the world in her home, has performed and taught at many festivals and conferences, and corresponds with the most talented diatonic accordion players from all over the world. She never took lessons. And she never gave up. She didn't have to start at point A to get to point B. She didn't have to be "taught." No one had to plan out her experience. She just did it.

Most people have similar experiences. Whether it's learning HTML or knitting or gardening or playing an instrument. And then, there are those of us who become semi-experts at everything that interests us - we find a puppy, so we learn everything we can about the breed; we learn about the benefits of organic food and can't stop finding out more and more and more; we learn about an interesting great aunt and have to keep delving deeper, until we've eventually filled in a family tree six generations deep, complete with interesting anecdotes about many of the ancestors.

Also, I think some people get caught up in separating certain kinds of learning from "real life." Math, for instance, and reading. But, these things are completely connected to real life. They ARE real life. If a kiddo wants to learn to cook, for example, there's LOTS of reading involved, as well as math, obviously. Interested in YuGiOh? Got to know how to read the cards and add and subtract damage points.

Everything is connected, and young kids (and those who haven't been to school) haven't been programmed to categorize things and separate them. So, it's only natural that playing with Hotwheels turns into a discussion on speed limits and road safety, or friction (watching them slow down), or how far they could travel in a second, a minute, an hour. Or, maybe it turns into a few hours spent drawing favorite race cars or talking about how car engines work.

My little one was never really into Hotwheels, but Greek mythology intrigued him. I can't for the life of me remember how it started, but for the past two years, Greek heroes and villains, gods and goddesses, monsters and nymphs have filled our conversations. He haunts the Greek myths section at the library. It wasn't long before Greek history slipped in, and suddenly, we were surrounded with books on crumbling structures and statues, Greek trivia, the Greek alphabet, etc. Well, of course, that turned into a love of all things Roman, and we spent long days with Julius Caesar and the Roman Empire. And Cleopatra, of course. Leading us to - you guessed it - Egypt! Lots to work with here. Mummies and pharaohs, pyramid building and heiroglyphics, treasures and tomb robbers. Archaeology. The Nile. Daily life in Egypt. Well, back to Rome, which wasn't built in a day - so how WAS it built? Sewage systems, buildings, roads into Rome, etc. Roman numerals led to a discussion of different number systems through history. Stepping outside, we stared into the night sky searching for constellations and planets, many named for Greek/Roman mythological characters. We bought binoculars and a Stellarscope, as well as several books on the constellations and astronomy in general. Then, on to Greek and Roman coins! This led to an interest in coins and bills from around the world and through the ages. The history of money. Why it's worth what it is today. And on and on and on and....

He's 7.5 now and hasn't shown a decline in interest. He could talk your ear off! He certainly knows much more about Ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt than I do! He's better at remembering which constellations are which. These were all just things that came up naturally because of his interest. We talk A LOT and one subject naturally flows into another subject.

Sorry this is so long. Guess I got carried away.

HTH!
post #22 of 58
Maybe not what you're looking for, but I'll tell it anyhow

We were driving in the car one day and ds, then 6, was asking random math questions. "What's 6-2, What's 18-4", I think he was asking to my 10yo dd. Then he asked "what's 5-7" or something like that. 10yo dd was like "umm, you can't take 7 out of 5". I then went on to explain that you can and that it then becomes a negative. 10yo dd didn't get it at all. Dh tried explaining that it's like "owing" numbers, or money. If you have $5 in the bank but you buy something with your debit card that costs $7, you now owe the bank $2, so you are negative $2. She still didn't get it, which is fine. However, 6yo ds was intrigued! He spent the next month subtracting into negatives whenever he could. He quized my then 12yo dd (public schooled, taking 8th grade math) and she was so suprised that he knew the answers because she said "I'm just now learning that and I'm in the 7th grade!"
post #23 of 58
My dd became very interested in babies around her 5th birthday. She watched the video of her birth. We looked at a book showing a baby growing inside the womb. We talked about the body parts involved.
I think this led to her interest in health and the body in general. Dd found a book on emergency care of infants and wanted to know all about it. She had a lot of questions about bones... then blood and muscles. We learned about teeth too.

Earlier in the summer there were storms. Dd wanted to know what made thunder, lightning and tornados so we learned some weather stuff.

Dd decided on her own that she wanted to learn Spanish. She has learned a few words now. On dh's birthday she told him happy birthday in Spanish.

Dd asks tons of questions- "How do people make rice krispies?" "What is the Spanish word for dog?" "How do people make books?"
I try to answer but if I don't know we look it up.

Dd was interested in reading when she was 4. She now reads the captions when she watches TV. She reads signs. She reads books. I still read to her and she likes to dictate stories.

Currently, dd is obsessed by dogs. She has learned all the different breed names from looking through a book we have. I'm not sure where it will lead. Probably to us getting a dog someday. Maybe someday she'll be a vet or work with dogs somehow.

Dd also has learned how to use the computer like a duck learning to swim. I'm sure in a few years we'll have to go to her for help. We definitely did not set out to teach her this.
post #24 of 58
Well my kids watched Pink Floyd's The Wall last night. The movie is a complicated mix of animation and symbolism combining WWII, an overbearing mother, drug abuse, music, and a not so nice depiction of school . It was cool. We discussed the music of Pink Floyd, and looked up some stuff. Interesting.
post #25 of 58
Once a week there is something new with Emma, something new she gets excited about. Last week - she asked to learn about our solar system again... and she picked up a book on bacteria/fungus/viruses and was all excited and read the book to me... telling me all about germs and how she knew that a fungus was actually a type of plant that could even breed on your feet and so on.
post #26 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by UnschoolnMa
Well my kids watched Pink Floyd's The Wall last night. The movie is a complicated mix of animation and symbolism combining WWII, an overbearing mother, drug abuse, music, and a not so nice depiction of school . It was cool. We discussed the music of Pink Floyd, and looked up some stuff. Interesting.
Ha, we had a similar thing happen when we watched Donny Darko. We talked about science and theology among other things.
post #27 of 58
well,LillianJ- it's nice to hear from you again! Love the thread-
This is cool -a K.L.F.F.T.O.I. thread!
(Kids Learning From Following Their Own Interests)

Anyway...1st ds started out in life passionately interested in all things electronic, his first garbled 7 month old word was "Buh"(buttons, he was trying to reach the remote control...) which led to love of robots, space, star wars, and LOTS of research and learning about outer space...(can anyone say revolving planet mobiles?)
Now he's mainly interested in computers,("buh" ) and building anything out of anything- I try to take pictures of all his inventions, someday we're all gonna' enjoy those...He's kind of like Bill Nye the science guy jr.
2nd ds developed a passion for the ocean and all it's animals when he was 2. I think we've read every book from the library on cetaceans- done every craft about ocean animals, gone on every field trip we could(including Seaworld in FL,just for him)Too little to tie his shoes, but desperately wants a stuffed bowhead whale to sleep with(???)
Don't know where they get their passions from, I just know they have them! And they both have a deep and abiding love for Disneys Lilo and Stitch!(?)
And I know they've expanded my interests also, I never would have fallen in love with whales on my own!
post #28 of 58
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by hsmamato2
And I know they've expanded my interests also, I never would have fallen in love with whales on my own!
Isn't that the truth! People outside of the homeschooling world have no idea how much FUN we have!

In fact, I used to cringe when I was somewhere with my son and people would look at me in awe and say, "So you teach him yourself?" As if he were some kind of mindless lump standing there who couldn't learn without me to drop it down his throat . I finally just came to say, "No, he teaches himself." - Lillian
post #29 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by rainbowmum
At the moment my eldest dd has been watching her birthday dvd's (Legally Blonde). She has been interested in law and lawyers for a while (amongst other things). So she took herself off to the library and is ploughing her way through a couple of law books. This from a girl who only starting reading books a couple of years ago She was explaining to me what she had learned about civil and criminal law. She only just turned 12!!! I am well impressed by her train of thoughts that just take off and find her actively doing things she enjoys
She sounds like me. I studied and took practice LSAT tests for fun when I was younger.
post #30 of 58
Thread Starter 
This is an interesting article that I also posted in an unschooling thread. It will draw a full spectrum of strong opinions, but will definitely give everyone a few things to think about:

Wild Child - For Quinn Eaker, a son of the radical "unschooling" movement, school's out forever - By Glenna Whitley

From dallasobserver.com
Originally published by Dallas Observer 2005-10-27
©2005 New Times, Inc.
Lillian
post #31 of 58
Interesting article - I gave the link to my entire h.s. group...I love the quote in there-
"the result is a handsome young man who has been raised by middle class wolves"(?not quite sure of wording) I just thought that was funny...sounds like an interesting family-
post #32 of 58

One more time

Oh, I did it again. I posted within a post when I meant to create an new post.
post #33 of 58
YK, that article was so interesting, but it actually put me off of unschooling. I came out with the conclusion that we may not stick with unschooling after all. I don't expect my kids to go to university or anything; I want them to follow their own dreams. But I, personally, would not set up an environment where my kids could play video games until 5am and skip reading until age 14. I loved the part about the kids playing in their yard all day. I love the non-conformity that Quinn had. But I don't follow TCS and so I, personally, would not be comfortable with some of the choices that the kids were given. The quote that said something like, "Why would you choose Dante if you could choose Doom?" kind of echoed my general feeling. I couldn't live in an environment like that, personally.

Maybe we won't/don't unschool after all. We're "child-led", but I don't know if I could along with the stuff that the family did. We are very anti-video games, for a start (for all of us, not just our kids).
post #34 of 58
*disclaimer*not trying insult anyones personal thoughts and ideas, just trying to express my own...

Don't be so put off by the article- I *think*that's why LillianJ started this thread-b/c the article described these folks as radical unschoolers... it's getting so some folks feel the need to differentiate even further...unschooling,radical unschooling,etc.which I guess is an ok thing- b/c unschooling can mean different things to different people-
that's why I like the title of this thread-
I like to refer to it as the T.K.L.F.F.T.O.I. thread...
I consider myself unschooling(on my good days) but I can't agree with the philosophy of "just letting go of my own expectations for my kids"- not knocking it here- just saying- I don't agree with that aspect of their thinking- but I don't think that's the absolute essence of unschooling. and the TCS line of thought, that's the TCS line of thought. That's not necessarily what you have to believe in order to unschool. I've had to ask and answer quite a few of my own questions along this line in the last 2 years also.
So I think especially if you feel like an unschooler,and consider yourself one, to me u.s'ers of all people are the ones who can and should defy neat categorizing....
post #35 of 58
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LeftField
YK, that article was so interesting, but it actually put me off of unschooling. I came out with the conclusion that we may not stick with unschooling after all.
Well, the thing to keep in mind is that all the neat categories that are so widely assigned to different homeschoolers these days are just a whole lot of different people's opinions; and there's a lot of disagreement on the definitions themselves, let alone the choices. So I don't think it really matters that much what we call what we individually do. You might very well unschool, but just not call it that. You would never homeschool in the way that family did - many of us wouldn't, because we're not them, we're each of us - it's really a matter of individual family and parent styles.

It's certainly interesting, though, to see some of what that boy was able to learn without traditional formal study. The reason I posted the article was not to show what "unschooling" is, but to show that even in the most radical form of unschooling, there's still amazing learning that can take place when a child is following his own interests, and we can all learn from that. It was certainly easy to overlook some of that while reading about some of the more radical things that went on, so I think you're initiation reaction is going to be a pretty common one. Lillian
post #36 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lillian J

The reason I posted the article was not to show what "unschooling" is, but to show that even in the most radical form of unschooling, there's still amazing learning that can take place when a child is following his own interests, and we can all learn from that. It was certainly easy to overlook some of that while reading about some of the more radical things that went on, so I think you're initiation reaction is going to be a pretty common one. Lillian
Thank you for helping me reframe my thoughts on this.
post #37 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lillian J




It's certainly interesting, though, to see some of what that boy was able to learn without traditional formal study. The reason I posted the article was not to show what "unschooling" is, but to show that even in the most radical form of unschooling, there's still amazing learning that can take place when a child is following his own interests, and we can all learn from that. Lillian
Yup!
post #38 of 58
This will be my first year hs'ing dd 8 and ds 4.5. However, since I have started to research hs'ing I've started to look at everyday activities in new ways.

For example, ds loves to build and follow plans for things. I bought him some Kid K'Nex (like K'Nex but bigger for younger kiddos) for Christmas last year and ridiculous me figured he wouldn't want to follow the plan book that came with it. Wrong. He was copying the objects off the side of the container - visually just figuring out from the pic the steps necessary to make the different things on the box. I quickly brought the plan book back out Now he likes to play with his sister's K'Nex which are smaller. He doesn't follow the more complex plans in the book yet, but still loves to tinker with them. He also loves building with Tinkertoys.

He also loves playing with Duplo blocks and was trying to build some things off the side of the box the other day. First he had to count how many blocks of each colour and size he needed to reproduce the picture on the bin. So right there he was doing counting, matching, classification, colour identification, and shape identification. As we were searching for the blocks I would say something like "We have 3 blocks so far and we need 4 total so how many more do we need to find?" Sometimes he would have to count it out again, but the connections were still being made, even if subtly. Then he had to use symetry and follow the pattern on the picture to re-create the item pictured. A couple of times we needed a block that wasn't in the bin and so we had to use other blocks to add up to the missing block which brought us to impromptu fractions. One I helped him with (taking three blocks to equal the length we needed of the missing block). The other time I was so proud of him because he needed a reg. rectangle and couldn't find one so he took two flat rectangles and put one on top of the other to equal the missing block! I was so proud of him for figuring it out on his own and he was proud of himself too.

I've also noticed how many times my kiddos ask me a question and I brush them off. No more of that now that I am mindful of it! I never realized how often they asked me questions!

Dd is a huge fan of books and will sometimes read for an hour after "official" bedtime at night. I'm really looking forward to being able to give her more free time for reading this year now that we are hs'ing.
post #39 of 58
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by emmsmama View Post
I was so proud of him for figuring it out on his own and he was proud of himself too.



I think that experience of a child discovering his own ability to figure things out and learn from it is so incredibly valuable - it's delicious to watch. We tend to take that away from them when we assume they're little empty vessels waiting to be filled. I really like this little piece by a teacher:

What We Steal From Children

- Lillian
post #40 of 58
My son (8) mentioned that he wanted to know more about chemistry, so I got him a $1 (clearance section @ half price books) chemistry you can do with ordinary household items book and after he finished his schoolwork Monday (he is n school two days a week) he did 2 of the experiements out of it (on his own), and has gone on to look up things online.

My six year old just barely got addition at the end of last year (he is homeschooled-relaxed eclectic) and we really didn't do much over the summer with math (a little reading). Just from playing with his brother & deciding he wanted to know now he can do 2 plus 2, 4 plus 4, etc. without counting on fingers anymore. Just from playtime with his brother over the summer (we basically did nothing this summer *G* it was great. I think all the kids needed to just do NOTHING).


I am sure I have more examples if I think enough, but those are the two most recent big things.
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