Even though we use a fairly traditional and structured curriculum for our homeschool, every once in a while it is gratifying to see the children follow a whim and catch a glimpse of self-directed learning.
Most Tuesdays, we visit our local library. Everyone looks for books to check out, and the three youngest children attend the story time. Usually the children’s librarian reads a few stories and then has a craft or other hands-on activity. The theme last week was “Animals in Winter”, so the children came home with toilet paper tubes covered with peanut butter and bird seed. They were excited to hang them in our neighbor’s dogwood tree which we can see from the dining room window. The next morning, it was a sweet sight to see them all gathered around the window gazing at the birds that were tasting the new treats. They were able to identify chickadees, but there was another type of bird whose identity we were not sure. I thought maybe they were gold finches in their winter plumage; but our oldest, the seventh grader, pointed out that these birds had crests on their heads. So he began to pour over two field guides for birds. We finally concluded the bird in question must be the tufted titmouse. Next thing I knew, he had a notebook and a pencil by the window and was drawing the birds he saw and writing down their names. He proceeded to get out a bird feeder he had made during the summer at Vacation Bible School, put a bun in it, and hang it in the tree with the tube feeders his siblings had hung. Then our youngest, who is in first grade, decided he would try his hand at drawing a bird from the field guide. For several days at various times, the children could be seen peering out the window looking for visitors to the feeders.
Today, after our oldest finished with his Science reading about birds and their wings, he began to lay out yardsticks and rulers on the floor. When I questioned him about what he was doing, he explained he was measuring the distance of the albatross’ wingspan which is approximately 12 feet. His siblings were quite interested to see his demonstration. I had to agree, seeing a visualization was quite impressive and made the information more memorable.
Some days schooling can be tedious; but when I see glimpses of the love of learning, it is affirming. I love to learn, and I want that for our children also.