When home educators begin to
worry that children aren't 'doing anything' it helps if they start to
translate what they are actually doing into educational terminology. For
example, playing on the ipad is quite a complex task. What exactly is
the child doing? What is the content? Is it new or going over old stuff
he already knows (consolidation)? Is he learning new skills in the game,
if so, what skills? Are they problem solving skills, strategy skills,
do they require quick thinking, calculating, etc? Talk to the child
about what is going on in the game, how it is enhancing his
understanding of his abilities, etc.
We are the adults in the
room. We have lived many years longer than them. We've picked up and
honed skills they've yet to encounter. It's up to us to take the lead
and mentor our children.
Give up the notion that learning is a
passive task - that the child just sits there and does stuff out of
books or whatever. Home education isn't giving children work which we
call learning work to do. It's living and learning and playing and being
with them. It's exploring and investigating and experimenting with
them. It's leading them, mentoring them, tutoring them.
We don't set up tasks for our children, we work with them.
Home education works because of the time we give to our children, the
time we make for our children. Not because of the way we do it. They
respond to our attention. They grow and learn from our attention. They
need attention from adults who are older, wiser, more skilled and
knowledgeable than them. They don't want to be entertained or trained or
Sure, children can play by themselves all day
doing something they love doing, or that interests them intensely. But
only a few children can sustain that level of interest for days on end.
They want to learn and grow - they are driven by an inner need to learn
and grow and challenge themselves. But they can't do it without our
help, support and encouragement.
When they were babies and
toddlers we willingly and instinctively gave them this help,
encouragement and support. We demonstrated how to do things and
reassured them that they'd eventually master those skills, abilities and
knowledge over time. We were there for them because we knew that this
is the way children learn and grow.
School has corrupted the
way we think about learning. It's stopped us thinking analytically and
sensibly about it. Children and parents make great learning partners.
Homes and gardens and local communities are great learning environments.
Home education works. And I've used that word because learning is work.
And helping our children learn is our work.