A beautiful thing happened along our homeschool journey: The boys remembered that they love learning.
Yes, that is a key part of being a child: Learning every single thing you can, soaking up as much information as possible so that as they grow, that information can be processed logically when your brain is ready. Yet for our boys, being in a classroom with 25 other children made learning something you had to do, and stifled that love. It turned the joyful journey it should have been into a daily drudge. I don’t blame their teachers, they did the best they could under the circumstances (and I really liked them), but the environment itself seems to limit the ability of children to simply be.
Little by little, I started to see that spark emerge again. It was little things at first, asking a question about something they saw. Then we went to the Natural History Museum in San Diego on one of their free Tuesdays. Suddenly, I saw two boys who could not fit enough knowledge into their little heads. I saw two boys light up when they saw the scale model of a “small” megalodon.
Something was happening right in front of me – they were interested in learning, they read the entire informational plaque about this monstrous ancient shark and wanted to know more. It was about the same time that we had bought a few milkweed plants to help the monarch butterflies along in their journey. We even built a screen cage with a milkweed inside to put the fattest caterpillars inside so they didn’t crawl off and we could watch their development and release them when they hatch from their pupae. They did a lap book on the butterflies and their development. While they complained about doing it at the time, they look back and love that project.
That was our first summer; we haven’t looked back. We started our homeschool journey with an informal, unschool approach that helped re-ignite their love of learning. It was a journey of exploration, as childhood should be! We use some formal curricula now, but we also use whatever resources are in front of us to learn. Right now, David is writing and illustrating his own books. He’s learning about grammar, spelling, and story telling. He is also learning to use Photoshop because we scan his drawings into the computer and he does nearly all the editing!
Daniel is still in love with all things nature-related. He managed to save enough money to buy his own video camera in order to make his own documentaries. At the moment, he’s learning about doing time-lapse videos of a flower that’s blooming on one of his air plants. He’s learning about plants, animals and anything else he can think of in doing this.
These things are all in addition to what we do in our regular school day – math, Latin, English, science and history. The boys are learning these things by choice, and learning more about those topics than they would have otherwise.
If your kids had their love of learning stifled, what did you do to get them excited again?