Sunday, September 26, 2010

Meet L1:Photographer.

He just turned 3. He has a camera. And a unique perspective. Have you ever wondered what the world looks like to a kid? Here are some examples.

See more, and what I hope to be a progression of his photography at Little View of a Big World.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

L1's 3rd Birthday!

So, officially L1's birthday is tomorrow, but I plan to be busy with playdates, cupcake making, and birthday dinner. You can find his birth story here, and boy, have I learned a LOT since that day.

I'm sorry I didn't get up and move more during my labor.
I'm sorry I allowed them to screw that monitor into your head, and even more sorry for how they carelessly ripped it out when it got tangled in your hair.
I'm sorry I didn't research what circumcision was, but still had it done to you.
I'm sorry for all the times in the past and future that I snapped, yelled, had a complete breakdown in our connection.

Mostly I just want to say: I love you L1, and I can't wait to see what fun it is to be mommy for an amazing 3 year old!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Live to Learn Together

Welcome to the September Carnival of Natural Parenting: We're all home schoolers
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how their children learn at home as a natural part of their day. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

With back-to-school efforts in full swing by many of my friends, I started thinking about posting my thoughts. Then I saw the invitation to submit for the Carnival of Natural Parenting co-hosted by Lauren at Hobo Mama and Dionna at Code Name: Mama. And I thought I would give it a go.

I have always loved learning. And while I never really hated school, I thought it was a huge waste of time. I constantly got in trouble for reading ahead during "read-aloud" times where students took turns reading from the text book. I would show up for classes on Monday, finish the work for the week, and then skip the rest of the week. It wasn't that I was so much smarter than other people, I just learned differently. Show me once, and I usually get it. I have great respect for different learning styles, the schools I have witnessed just can't.

Before I had kids, a family I nannied for hired me to supervise their education as well. The biggest reason being that their 3rd grader didn't know how to read.  It didn't take me long to figure out he needed to MOVE for his brain to process. If you asked him to sit and read, he couldn't focus. But if you gave him a ball to sit on, or something to work with his hands, he could manage just fine. Spelling and math became a breeze when I would tell him the word or problem, then he ran around the outside of the house, came back and had the answer. It is called the Bodily-Kinesthetic Learning Style (1). He never would have had that kind of opportunity at school. How can a teacher, no matter how great, keep control over 15-30 kids when they ostensibly all have different styles? They can't, and so they "encourage" students to follow the more mellow learning styles: sitting quietly to learn and work.

This was the biggest reason I have always said that I would avoid industrialized school if at all possible. Having made this choice early, my husband and I were able to create our family life as one open to the opportunity to learn from the day we found out we were expecting. When L1 was born, our adventure in learning as a family began. 

We tend to be a bit lazy around the house, so we plan our time carefully, and spend as much time as we can out and about. We do the "normal" things like visiting the zoo and aquarium, but we don't just wander from exhibit to exhibit. We visit areas during Keeper Chats to learn more about the animals. When L1 was old enough, we looked for the ones where a not-too-busy zoo keeper is working, and willing to talk to our boys about the animals, as well as listening to L1 talk about them (even if he isn't entirely decipherable yet). 

This is actually our main method of creating learning opportunities: going places, and talking to the people who know, and are open to having a conversation with a 3 year old, because L1 has a lot to say. We are regulars at a local produce stand, where the manager stops when she sees us to tell L1 his favorite foods are in and where they came from. She also introduces us to any new foods they have that week. When we visit farmer's markets, street fairs, libraries, anywhere, we look for the person in the know to talk with. Then we take that information home with us, and explore it to the extent of our interest in the topic. Which can include finding books to read, a website to explore, or a craft to make. When they are old enough to start asking about different topics, we will search out the experts to talk to and learn from.

I guess you could call it Child-Led Learning. The premise of child-led learning is that children learn best and rise to their full potential when they are allowed to lead the way and explore subjects when they feel ready. (2) Except this isn't just for my son's benefit, we do it because it is our responsibility to continue learning all through our lives. That is the lesson I really want to teach my children. I am not the teacher, we are learning together using the resources that are so abundant in this age of information. We live to learn, and that never stops. It doesn't matter where you are or what you are doing, everything is a learning opportunity when you take away the idea that "school is where you learn". School is a place for certification of your education, which will be important as they grow older. But for now, the world teaches my children in a way no mass education machine can even fathom much less provide. Good thing I can.

1. "The physical (bodily-kinesthetic) learning style." N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Aug. 2010. .

2. Madison, N.. "What is Child-Led Learning?." wiseGEEK: clear answers for common questions. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Aug. 2010. .


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated September 14 with all the carnival links.)