Or trusting children to learn in their own time

I have been rather busy recently, my eyes glued to the computer screen, my mind miles away.

“Please can we use the scrapbooking paper, Mum?”

“Yes, you may.”

“Please can I borrow your stapler, Mum?”

“Huh? Oh yes, it’s on my desk.”

For a couple of hours I was vaguely aware that Sophie and Gemma-Rose were very busy doing something. I wasn’t sure exactly what they were doing…

“Mum, look! We’ve made some notebooks!”

I glanced up from my computer and I was impressed, very impressed. The girls had neatly folded a stack of coloured paper to make a book and then they’d added an artistically decorated cover.

When did Sophie and Gemma-Rose learn how to do such things without my help? Isn’t it my job to do the folding so all the pages fit together properly? Aren't they supposed to ask me for advice on how to bind everything together? The girls had huge grins on their faces. They were obviously enormously satisfied with what they’d achieved on their own.

I returned to my computer. Over the sound of my key-tapping, I could hear Gemma-Rose and Sophie discussing something. Soon Gemma-Rose approached me.

“We want to write some letters, Mum. Will you help me with mine?”

I didn’t really want to leave my computer so I took the easy way out: “How about you write out what you want to say and I’ll correct the spelling later?”

Gemma-Rose seemed satisfied with this and she went off to search for paper and a pencil.

Some time later, she returned. “I’ve finished my letter. I’ve written to Bethany. Can you have a look at it please, Mum? I’m going to send Bethany one of my notebooks.”

So I finally closed up my computer and gave the girls my full attention. And I was absolutely amazed. I could read the whole of Gemma-Rose’s letter without a problem and she had made very few spelling mistakes. It was all very neatly written too.

When did Gemma-Rose learn to write a proper interesting letter without any prompting from me? When did her spelling improve so dramatically? And isn’t she supposed to scrawl when I don’t remind her to form her letters with care?

A few days earlier, I’d been thinking that the girls hadn’t written anything for a while. I’d been wondering if I should give them a gentle push. Should I insist they write something? But all those thoughts had been rather vague. As I said, my mind was occupied with projects of my own. Now I am so glad I didn't make an issue of writing.

I learnt a lot from this notebook experience. I realise that sometimes it looks like not much learning is happening. I could start to worry and want to interfere. But if I have the courage to wait and trust, all of a sudden, my children amaze me with their progress.

The best thing wasn’t the well written letters or the improved spelling or the very professional looking notebooks. It was the huge grin on Gemma-Rose’s face. It expressed all the satisfaction and pleasure she’d obtained from working hard on a project of her own choosing. 

Can we trust children to learn what they need to know. I think the answer is 'Yes!'

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  1. Sue
    Just tagged you for a meme

  2. Thank you for tagging me, Erin. Already I am thinking....!!!

  3. I agree with all of this, Sue. But, what's intriguing me, at the moment, is reading other stories of great resources which have been invaluable. Why can't I think of a single resource that I'd want to recommend? My children aren't brilliant but they do seem to find their way using whatever they can get hold of - usually, a mix of classical books and more contemporary reading. Even my later reader, has found his own way in his own time. I guess unschooling has just worked well for us.

  4. Isn't it amazing what the children come out with a knew skill.
    Brid constantly amazes me with her literacy and skills within a computer program.
    The notebooks look amazing. leanne

  5. Vicky,

    You must already have provided your children with a rich environment!

    How about recommending your ipad or your ereader? Or maybe a netbook or your fabulous garden? Then there's the library. I saw you had a good range of art and craft materials...

    Yes, children are good at using what's around them to learn what they need to know. I wonder if your children ever ask you to buy or find something in particular.

    God bless!

  6. Leanne,

    It's so exciting when you realise a child has acquired a new skill, isn't it? I am learning patience: new skills appear when a child is ready, not when I demand them. Sometimes I forget though!

    Thank you for commenting. God bless.

  7. I guess I meant traditional texts when I thought about resources. The other stuff is just part of the environment. Perhaps, I'm on a different chain of thought, at the moment:)

  8. Hi Vicky,

    I guess life is the greatest resource for an unschooler. And life is full of much more than traditional texts, I know you'd agree. Funny how we were thinking along different lines. I didn't think about traditional texts probably because we don't have any! But I am always looking out for other types of resources. So many wonderful things that add to the learning environment. So pleased you returned to add more to your comment. Thank you!


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