A few weeks ago, I had a photography adventure in the bush with my girls. We had a wonderful afternoon strolling along the bush track with our cameras, and when we returned, I pondered:
Should I plan a special lesson about how cameras work, or how the eye works, or the history of cameras or how light works or…? No! That would kill the girls’ interest in photography dead. I am sure the girls will ask questions or look things up for themselves, all in their own time.
Well, I am so excited. It happened! Last night, Sophie said, “Mum can I learn about the human body, please?”
I remembered there was a book on the shelf called The Body Book. It contains “easy-to-make hands–on-models that teach.” I passed the book to Sophie and left her flipping through it while I dashed out the door to a meeting.

This morning Sophie said, “I think I’ll make a model of the eye.”
The EYE? “That sounds interesting!”
Sophie and Gemma-Rose are sitting at the table in front of me, in the family room. They are cutting and sticking and colouring, and slowly a very impressive paper model of the eye is coming into existence. Occasionally, I answer a construction-type question but basically the girls are working on their own. And enjoying themselves.

Nineteen year old Callum appears: "I remember making one of those!" He smiles at the memory.

I am glad I didn’t plan out an eye lesson. This is working out so much better. It's self-motivated learning, learning that belongs entirely to the girls. Their faces tell the story: looks of great satisfaction appear as their 'eyes' take shape.
I am mentally jumping up and down with excitement. I just love it when my children actually do what I predict.

But how confident was that prediction? Did I say, "I am sure the girls will ask questions or look things up for themselves, all in their own time," with slightly more confidence that I felt?  I'm not telling!
Why should we have doubts that children will learn without someone prodding them along? Children are curious about everything. It's not surprising that Sophie eventually started to think about the eye and wondered how it might work.

Still... It's wonderful to see self-directed learning in action... and I am still very excited!
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  1. I'm finding this, too! The children are so much more active and curious than when I used to do their planning for them!

    Yesterday, they spent the day learning languages and, today, they started making a movie each. Melanie wrote the story for hers and started the production work. Bethany decided to make hers into an animation and she learnt how to do it on the computer. I couldn't have planned a better lesson!

  2. Hi Vicky,

    What sort of camera are the girls using? Did you find any interesting and helpful animation information on the Internet? This all sounds like a wonderful learning adventure. You sound excited too!

    And you will have to tell me about the languages too.

  3. The children are using a simple digital camera, though the iPad might be an option. There's probably an app that will do what they want to do. I'm not sure where Bethany's up to with her research. She was looking at Windows Moviemaker, today, but Carrie's Mac would do a lot more.

    I've just posted about this and the languages (we're at any stage with these) on my blog.

  4. Oh Sue, that is a lovely picture of Gemma-Rose on the top of the post. I can certainly see a resemblance. She looks so much like you! I love that your instinct was right on. You must be pleased!

  5. Thank you, Vicky! I shall visit your blog and read your posts.

  6. Hi Stephanie,

    So good to see you here! Thank you for stopping by and saying hello.

    Yes! I was so pleased my instincts were right.

    Gemma-Rose looks like me? I love that! Sometimes I think I just look like an aging woman while she is so gorgeous.

    God bless!

  7. I always have to fight the tendency to either over-manage my kids' learning or -- if consciously trying to approach things through the eyes of an unschooler -- to suffocate them with excessive strewing *LOL* -- suffocating the spark of interest. :-)

    Kudos to you for standing back and observing and to your kids for jumping in with both feet and indulging their love of learning!

  8. Hi Steph,

    Thank you for your comment!

    I guess when the kids jump right in and display their love of learning with enthusiasm, a parent's role is easy. It's those times when it looks like no learning is actually happening, that are the difficult times. Then there's a temptation to interfere and do some mother management. I'm learning though! Should have it all sorted out by the time my last child graduates!

  9. I'm with you on that! I'm convinced that by the time I get the hang of all this, all my kids will be paying taxes and living in another state. :-) And thanks for visiting. I responded to your comment on my blog.

  10. I will hop over and read your comment! So nice to make a new friend. Thank you, Steph.

  11. I love stories like this!!:)

  12. Erin,

    I feel so encouraged when something like this happens!

    God bless.

  13. I too worry about Brid and her exercise. she competed in the running events at camp. I was pleased with her stamina and her willingness to just run...and no out of breathe..Thanks again for posting

  14. Sounds like Brid is doing OK, Leanne. It's so easy for girls to slide into inactivity, just like mums! It's about encouraging good habits, I suppose. Thank you for your comment.


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