When Kids Drive the Learning

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I’m astounded. Truly.

We have a relatively clean homeschool room – better organized than I could have hoped to ever do in a full day…and kids totally into science experiments…without any direction or input from an adult.

Simply fantastic!

Here is how it played out…

Sunday afternoon was a busy one. My husband and I were deeply involved with organizing our basement, which desperately needed attention. When we moved, anything deigned “garage or yard or basement” was tossed in willy-nilly. The result was a warren of boxes, totes and unused shelving lying in odd places.

We also had a stack of bee boxes that needed to be treated for moths and sealed. And I had a ton of laundry, decluttering and vacuuming to do in the main living areas of the house.

We were busy, so I was happy that the kids were around and that Emily was occupied. In and out, upstairs and down, they traipsed around playing adventure games, Legos, and other healthy play. At some point in the afternoon, Anthony, this wonderfully helpful young man in the white shirt here…

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announced to me that he had convinced Emily to help him pick up the homeschool room. “I told her that if she did, you might let her use it for whatever she wanted to.” He said to me.

“Sure…it’s the homeschool room, after all.” I told him, “It’s for crafts and learning and games. I’ve been meaning to organize it, but I’ve just been overwhelmed by it all.” I said this and then shrugged, my arms full of laundry basket, “See what you can get her to do.”

A while later I stepped back in the room. Emily had escaped Anthony’s clutches, looking very unwilling to clean anymore, and I was taken aback. The long table was completely clean and laid out with neat stacks of papers, ready for some kind of crafting adventure.

“Oh my!” I said, shocked at how much he had gotten done in just a few minutes. He proudly showed me around the room, frowning at one side of it where there was still an untidy pile. “She doesn’t want to clean anymore.”

His eyes lit up when I showed him the large homeschool cabinet where I had stored all of the books by subject. “Here is Social Studies, Math is down at the bottom, there’s foreign language, and on the top shelf here is Science.”

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Anthony crowed, “I love science!” He pointed to a box, “We’ve used that in my class for science experiments. It was so fun!”

I pulled it down and handed it to him as Emily and Anthony’s younger brother David returned to the room. “You can do the experiments if you like.”

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Anthony’s eyes widened, “Ooh! Yes, we’ll clean the rest of the room and then we can do science experiments! C’mon you guys,” he said roping the others back in, “let’s finish cleaning and then we can do some science experiments!”

Now really, how can any parent say “no” to that?

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This section of the floor above had been impassable – stuff piled everywhere. The kids cleaned it all up.

I was expecting company at 8pm for dinner and so I continued to clean up the other living areas, as well as vacuuming up the neat little pile of dust they had swept up from the room, and let them run about and do experiments well after our guests had arrived. In fact, at 9:30, as our guests were leaving to go to the airport, Emily was just sitting down to dinner, having completed some two or three different experiments in the science kit with Anthony and his brother before they had to go home and then spending half an hour doing catch and release on the fireflies in our yard.

Personally I think that I couldn’t have had a more perfect situation. The homeschool room, which has flummoxed me for months, is CLEAN (well, clean enough). My daughter, who avoids cleaning like the plague, was convinced to clean the room, and clean it well, AND had great fun with several science experiments afterwards.

I look at the homeschool room now and see kids. Not just kid, but KIDS. It makes me want to rush out and buy a microscope, slides, and more fun science-y stuff. And arts and crafts supplies…and…and…

I really love it when the kids drive the learning. It makes so much more REAL.

Oh, and it appears this little Lego kit, along with random bits of other things, was put in the bug container. Kind of cool…

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I can’t help wondering if I could just adopt this boy. He’s amazing. What a great kid!

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