It’s FINALLY October…. which is pretty much the best time because it officially ushers in the holiday season – my absolute favorite time of the year. When thinking about how to celebrate this glorious month, I was inspired by a lovely lady, Leonie Dawson, and a similar “Month of Magic” that she did last month – giving away something to her audience every day to help them on their journey. I knew as soon as I saw this that I was something I wanted to do for you!
“Natural learning” is a phrase you’ll see all over my site, my social media, and in my courses, curriculum, books, and live videos that I do… so what EXACTLY does that mean?
If you’ve been a follower of mine for any amount of time, then you know that learning through nature and using Mother Nature as a resource for knowledge and joy is something that I talk about frequently. Today though, I’m going to get super clear on the definition of “Natural Learning” because it goes far beyond simply using nature as your primary resources for learning!
Natural learning is a philosophy that encompasses two major beliefs:
If you’ve been following along with our art space series, then by now you’ve determined why your children really need an art space in the home, and some super simple tips and steps to getting one set up and introducing the right materials at the right time. In this final post in our series, I want to introduce “Invitations to Create,” which are meant to inspire your child to expand their artistic and creative abilities in a variety of ways!
This is a series of posts designed to help you create an open-ended art space that will inspire your child to be creative, expressive, and to share their ideas and interests through visual art.
If we want our children to be creative, open-minded,problem solvers, and freely themselves, the best way that we can do that is to provide them with an environment in their space where they can freely access materials to create at any point. This post will give you pointers into setting up an art studio in your home (if you’re in a classroom, the info is the same, just on a larger scale). Make sure to check out the post about Why Your Child Needs an Art Space to understand the incredible benefits of doing this – it’s some serious motivation to make this happen! Setting up an art space in your home might seem overwhelming if this is something you haven’t done before, but if you follow some of these guidelines, this will help make it seem a bit easier and get you started on creating this wonderful free art space for your kids to enjoy.
Art is one of the most important forms of self-expression for our children. As parents and educators, our hopes and goals for our children are that they grow up to be independent free thinkers, always curious, and looking for problems that they can solve. When they are younger, the best thing that we can do to support all of these traits is to create an open and inspiring art space in our homes or classrooms for our children to create in! “Art has the role in education of helping children become more like themselves instead of more like everyone else.” – Sydney Gurewitz Clemens
So often I get asked some form of this question: “I love the IDEA of homeschooling, but my biggest fear is socialization. How will my child learn to connect with others his/her age?”
It’s an age-old joke. Homeschooled kids are weird. Awkward. Don’t know how to fit into society.
So naturally it’s something that crosses every new homeschooling parent’s mind – what about social growth? How do I make sure my child knows how to talk to other kids? What about participating in events? How do I find local things for them to do…. So I CAN SOCIALIZE THEM.
Happy December First!!
We’ve officially entered my FAVORITE month and time of the year, and I can’t wait to spread holiday cheer to everyone around me!
I wanted to start with you, my beloved friends! So, I have some holiday gifts that are completely free and ready for you to open up and enjoy with your kids and for yourself.
Ready? Here are three gifts that I hope you can use to make your holiday season the best one yet. After all, life is so short… make every second count.
For years now I’ve seen posts and photos of gorgeous wax-dipped Fall leaves; and I have always wanted to give it a try. Finally this year, with my sons’ obsessive leaf-collecting habits in full swing, it was time!
This is a great activity for kids starting around the preschool/kindergarten age. The wax is hot, but solidifies as soon as it touches skin, so it’s not dangerous. My 5-year old handled the project with ease. The 2-year old helped with leaf gathering on our nature walk and laying them out to dry.
From math activities that helped to distract him and learn new language for describing feelings, to daily drawings of what was on his mind, to yoga becoming part of our mornings again, this curriculum really helped us open up and talk about things more constructively, and I started to see an improvement in his mood. Of course, he’s still in a period of transition and misses his dad while he works, but now we have a great line of communication and activities to help. Thank you, Leah, for including “My Feelings” as part of the first grade curriculum.
I have parents asking me all the time how they can create both a child-led learning environment but also still teach their children to read and write! Believe it or not, a child-led experience leads very nicely into the development of reading skills. Creating an environment where reading is a focus, a joy, and a part of everyday life is one of the most important ways to help your child boost their early literacy skills.
Learning happens anywhere and everywhere, even on family trips. One of my favorite benefits of homeschooling is the ability to take his learning with us and travel, without having to wait for summer. Reading about different places, climates, and habitats is a wonderful way to learn, but we love to bring our physical learner to different places where he can see, touch, and experience these worlds in person.
I want to answer another of the questions I hear over and over again (because I bet this is one that you’ve had streaming through your head a time or two). And that is “But what about the ABCs?” Or, in other words, if I don’t TEACH them, how will my child ever learn to read or write?! This is something that starts to freak parents out BIG TIME the second they get excited about child-led learning. That fear kicks in and a lot of times, they run away from the unstructured, free and flexible learning experiences for the rigid, “sit at a desk and learn stuff on paper” way of learning that they’re used to. But you don’t have to do that.
If you’re feeling completely overwhelmed with everything that you’re doing – planning healthy meals for your family, keeping track of bills and birthdays, planning learning activities for your kids, making sure you get to appointments and meetings on time, balancing a job, or any of the other thousands of things that parents do… well then you’re right where you need to be!
I don’t know about your family, but around here, we LOVE to cook and bake! Letting our kids be a part of the “food process” in our home has always been a priority from the time my oldest was very little. There were quite a few reasons we did this:
1. Research is very clear that if we help children be a part of the process of growing, cooking, and preparing their own healthy food choices, they’re more likely to make those healthy choices for the rest of their lives.
It’s funny really… it’s so easy for us to see how natural and magical this type of lifestyle can be. Figuring out what our children are interested in, guiding them towards the information that they need to learn as much (or as little!) as they want about that particular topic, and then seamlessly moving onto the next topic. It’s almost like (gasp!) REAL LIFE!
But then… well, then we let the fear kick in.
Whether you are decorating your playroom, bedroom, or living room, nature is a low cost – high reward option!
Take a look inside your personal memory bank for a minute, and find those memories of learning to read, being read to, and other literacy-related memories. Can you recall fond memories of learning to read by your parents reading consistently to you (or are you lacking that memory and longing for it)? Do you have memories of seeing your family members read to themselves? Did your dad read the daily paper? Did your mom take time to read books? Did your grandparents read for pleasure? Intentional or not, this act of modeling an appreciation for and love of reading goes a long way in creating a literacy rich environment for your children!
Everyone loves to scroll through Pinterest and Instagram and look at all the beautiful, angelic faces of children happily playing with some wooden blocks in the sunshine or digging in the mud peacefully with their siblings.
“They must play that way for hours! How simple and wonderful.”
“That Mom never runs out of ideas! She’s always ready with a new, amazing activity for her kids! They’re probably so smart.”
“I bet they eat themed Bento lunches every day!”
Sounds so great, right?
Except maybe you kinda want to punch them in the face. Maybe you kinda want to punch me in the face? Totally understandable…. keep reading anyway.
I definitely realize that I’m going to be pushing some buttons and hitting some pain points here today, but I think this is a very important thing that we need to be looking at in ourselves. Recently I stumbled across an online quiz aimed at homeschoolers that a parent could take to determine what teaching philosophy they best fit within. Just to see what the questions were like, I took the quiz for myself and what I noticed was that every single question in this quiz had to do with you – the parent, the adult, and what your beliefs around education were. There wasn’t a single question about your child… about the way that your child communicates with you, about the way your child prefers to share their knowledge about new things, about your child’s unique learning style, or their interests. Not one question.
Child-Led Learning. At first glance, it seems like a wonderfully simple way to educate your child – find out what they are interested in, and teach them that! Easy peasy, right?
But… when many families begin to implement this type of learning, they often become quickly frustrated:
“My child’s interests change all the time! How am I supposed to plan for anything?”
“How in the world can I come up with enough exciting activities to keep my child engaged if they stay interested in the same topic for a long time?”
“I feel like we’re doing the same thing every day.”
These are EXACT snippets of conversations I have had with families who really want to follow their child’s interests with learning, but feel overwhelmed by the actual implementation of it.
So, I’m here to tell you:
CHILD-LED LEARNING CAN BE EASY, FUN, AND DONE WITH A PLAN.
And in this post, I’m going to teach you the 5 essential elements to having a successful child-led learning experience!
Feeling a bit like you’re in a rut lately with your homeschooling routine? Do you wish you could wake up every morning with excitement to start your day and learn WITH your kids? This is the post for you… I totally know that feeling. But you know what? It’s Totally. Normal. Promise. And that’s what I want to talk to you about today…. my signature 5-step process to setting and achieving BIG goals with homeschooling (or, really, you can apply these goals to anything in life)!