Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Owning Our Learning

Today has already been full.  We started with our chores, breakfast, a few more chores, bread-making, imaginative play, etc.  My husband is on Spring Break this week so the children are enjoying him being around--which he isn't as often as they'd like--so this definitely changes the flow of the day (in a good way).

Today each of my children seemed to be on their ear to "do school."  I say "do school" because I now see everything I do as part of our learning and we've spent the last month and a half not doing anything that looked like "school" (in the traditional sense).  I pointed out to Kanga (the name my 7.5yo gave herself for my blogging purposes) that she has done more on her own with regards to owning her learning during this time than ever before.

I have loved that she has been driven in this way.  As soon as she could hold a pencil she was scribbling on paper making lists for me and herself.  She has always enjoyed looking through books and reading the pictures.  We started focusing on phonics more and I even gave her a short list of Dolch Sight Words.  Now everything is coming together and she is reading!!! 

I have always done some sort of phonics with her and just formally started using Saxon Phonics two years ago now (I believe...it may only be a year and a half).  I chose it because I used it in the school system and liked how it taught the rules and codes we come across in the dictionary regularly.  But since my backing off a bit and allowing her to lead (with regards to when we do phonics) it's allowed her to take much more ownership of this whole process.  I feel less concerned about what others think or say ("She isn't reading yet?"--gasp!  "What are you all doing if you're not teaching her to read?" "Mine have been reading since they were three." etc.).  It has also made be re-evaluate exactly what I want for each of my children.  I'd rather not force-feed them or even take the enjoyment out of our home-learning experience.  I do so want them to LOVE learning....and so I'm finding myself stepping back more and more.

Now I make sure we have what we need (supplies, good books, plenty of learning opportunities, some sort of schedule, etc.) but I'm learning to allow each of them to find their place in all of it.  If that makes sense at all.  There are times our learning space is tidy and neat--everything in it's place.  There are other times when there seems to be paper everywhere! Our tables and desk areas covered with all manner of things.  Yet even in the chaotic state, there is learning happening at it's own pace.

During our last visit to the library (last week) I picked out some phonetic reading books just to see what Kanga can do.  Really, it was so she could see what she could do.  Of course she got annoyed at the library when asked to look through them and read the words she knew.  But I checked them out anyway.  Over the weekend I placed them on her desk to let her leaf through.  Sure enough, she surprised herself and shared with excitement that she could READ them by herself!  "Mommy! Listen to this!"

I am proud of that girl!!  She has a journal in which I've encouraged her to write down words she either knows or wants to learn.  In sharing with me for this week what she's working on (yeah, she's initiated this as well) she showed me several pages of sentences she's written using the words she knows.  I was impressed as I never suggested this.   She is already connecting the reading and writing aspect of communication.

I'm not sure how things will work for my Sweetie Pie (almost 5yo) and The Boy (3yo).  But I'm feeling comfortable that if I continue down this path, their learning style will emerge and they, too, will be reading at the right time for each of them!!

How are things going for you today?  If you're more structured than we are, what are you using to encourage ownership of learning?  If you're more relaxed, how are your children showing you that they're taking responsibility for what they want to know?  I must say that I LOVE to hear what others are doing.  So, please take a moment to leave a comment!  I promise I won't bite! (I've had my breakfast already! LOL!) :D

(or if you've written about this on your blog before....leave me a link!)

Thanks so much!  Hope you're having a Terrific Tuesday!


Kelly said...

I'm in my own discovery phase... I have principles that I think I want to use to guide my "teaching" of my little ones, but I'm refining them as my oldest gets closer to being considered a preschooler. I am reading Einstein Didn't Use Flashcards. I'm finding it affirming and looking forward to seeing how it guides my own "teaching." For now, we are focusing on playing (lots of pretend, outdoor fun, and fun investigation) and reading! So our day is pretty much is read, play, eat, in various combinations! :-)

Rana said...

We are very relaxed over here in our neck of the woods. We are using Progressive Phonics which I found online and tinky girl asks when we can do the next lesson everyday. so we read she practices. We had our song book out for our christian meetings and she read the title to one of the songs. It surprised her that she new the words. So I can relate to what Kanga girl is feeling when she realized she could read the phonics books on her own. It's a great feeling to see them do it on their own because they want to. Not because we are forcing them.



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