Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Good Stuff

Someone posted this on a thread (titled "Are we stuck?") on the alwayslearning yahoo list and it resonated with me because it expresses the sentiments I feel ring true about unschooling: "In addition to this time being short, and precious - you are building the foundation of natural learning in your home. Learning flows when needs are met, connections are strong, and kids can absolutely trust their parents, and know their parents are there for them. Some of the core values of natural learning are trust, support, joy, and freedom. You are putting up scaffolding for years and years of learning by the choices you make now. "

Pam Sorooshian commented on the post and then wrote:
"The time spent mothering and playing is not time away from real learning -not to be rushed through to get to "the good stuff" as some may think of it. It is essential to allow real learning and, really, to allowing the child to grow up as a whole, integrated human being.

Homeschoolers think a lot about learning - but they often focus on learning to read, write, do math, or learning science or history, etc. Unschoolers tend to take that kind of learning for granted, it happens along the way. Instead, as we get more and more into unschooling, we tend to focus on things like kindness and creativity and honesty - all those character traits that will determine "how" their learning will be used in their lives."
I loved what Pam wrote so much!  Her comments led me to think about various thoughts related to play in general and how play is connected to relationships, self-esteem and learning.

* Kids learn best when they are happy and engaged in something meaningful to them which is one reason why kids learn so much when they play. 

* If we truly believe that kids will learn from everything and learning is as natural as breathing, we can relax and enjoy ourselves even more without worrying if they are learning specifics that society thinks they should know by a certain age. (With homeschooling, people have the freedom to learn in their own time and way, like they did before school.)

* When kids grow up in a home where they feel good, they get used to "feeling good" as their norm. What a wonderful thing!  And having fun playing is a great way to feel good!

* Another thing that kids learn as we play with them is how relationships work. They get experience  figuring things out in the context of play between (parent and child and siblings). When we play with our kids, it builds positive connection, which is the most important thing to me!

*This brings me back to Pam's comments....when we care for, nurture and play with our children, we are building the foundation of a great relationship. We are in essence showing our kids that we care for them, they are worthy of our time, that they are loved, that we care to spend time with them and do things for them, that we care what they like to do and that what they want to do is important to us. All of this helps them feel like they are important to us. That makes them feel good and increases their self-esteem.

* And to go full circle again....when kids feel good in general, learning flows easier as they are not stressed or in a situation that requires their attention elsewhere and they can naturally focus on what it is they want to learn.

I know Pam alluded to "The good stuff" as being educational because that is what many homeschoolers or other people think (even though she thinks of it much differently).  To me, "the good stuff" is the loving and mothering and connections that forge a caring, trusting relationship. The educational stuff comes naturally and easily when all other needs are met as we follow our interests and doing educational things are part of our lives every day.  In addition, because I am around my children so much, converse with them throughout the day, know what they do and are interested in, notice many of the connections they make, and know them so well overall, I have an understanding of much of what they know (like most parents do of very young children who spend lots of time together).  

It is the time we choose to spend with our kids when they want and need us most that helps build a great foundation not only of love of each other, but of life and learning in general.  That good stuff helps build a good life!

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