Sunday, April 30, 2006

"Spontaneous" Learning

Sometimes (often, in fact) my kids astonish me by seemingly learning something "overnight". Such has been the case lately with Nathan (age 6 1/2). Up until about a month ago, he had on only one occasion (to my knowledge) picked up a pen or pencil and practiced printing letters. That was way back when he was four, and as a matter of fact, even that time he certainly wasn't "practicing". He wanted to write his name, so he asked me what it looked like. I carefully printed it out for him. He then proceeded to pick up a pencil and do a very admirable job of printing his name.

Back to the present. A few weeks ago, we were goofing around with the magnetic letters on the fridge. He then asked me how to spell "yes". We spelled it out together with the magnetic letters, then he wandered off (to do something entirely unrelated, I was sure - that's usually how our days go; flowing in and out of a wide variety of things and making connections here, there and everywhere). A few minutes later, he appeared with the word "yes" printed very carefully on a scrap piece of paper (and a big grin). WOW. Over the next few days, he copied a wide variety of words down, and continues to randomly ask for words to copy.

Around 11:30 last night, it was "treehouse". We were all up, having a late-night pow-wow about our plans for building a playstructure in the back yard. We had been surfing online, looking at a variety of pre-fab kits, but not only were they phenomenally expensive (some of them cost twice as much as we paid for our [used] minivan!) but they also weren't quite what the kids wanted, either. So Joe (dh) started drawing up some plans, trying to come up with something that contained a suspended treehouse, swings and a climbing wall, and that would also fit in the space available in our small back yard and not totally smash our budget. He came up with something that met all the requirements, and while Nathan sat watching the drawing take shape, he asked what the word "treehouse" looked like. So, as usual, I copied it out for him. He sat there happily printing it out, then observing that it was actually 2 words put together, "tree" and "house", and playing around with that.

Of course, all of these connections didn't really happen "overnight". Nathan's been watching, observing, and picking up all the skills needed to print proficiently in a million different subtle ways that I can't begin to imagine, since he was born. I have to think that all the furious Lego building he's been doing for years (with all those little bitty pieces) played a big part in building his dexterity and fine-motor skills. I've also noticed he developed an intense interest in colouring pictures a few months before this magical "burst" in printing ability. It's so wonderful to realize that it's not necessary to force a kid to slave over workbooks, struggling to print letters by rote for untold hours, until they finally get the hang of it. Like everything else that matters in life, they'll learn it in there own time, and in their own way. Naturally!

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Finally, a Family Blog!

It's about time I got around to this. I've had my professional blog going for months, and haven't managed to quite get round to starting a personal blog to document all the many adventurers of our radically-unschooling family.

So, here it is! I hope to chronicle our many and varied experiences (on a somwhat regular basis)as we journey together through this amazing thing called life.