How and what do children learn without a set curriculum and teaching for testing?
My children learn by following their interests with a lot of support for exploring new places and new ideas and interacting with new people as well as delving deeper into long-term interests and maintaining long-term friendships.
We live in a rural area and spend a lot of time at home. This suits us perfectly because there is a lot here to keep us happy and busy and engaged, and we all seem to have a bit of introverted tendencies anyway. Not to mention that there's the wondrous world wide web to help keep us connected, informed, and entertained. (Lately the girls have been enjoying BBC's Dance Mat Typing, BrainPOP, and Cyberchase math games, as well as the usual Netflix and YouTube fair.)
Sylvia finishing her painted tea set
cherry blossoms becoming cherries
chicks becoming chickens
one of the hens checking them out on their first day in the wider world
carrying them from the indoor brooder to a fenced area outdoors
Ayla really wanted to pick them flowers and seed heads to snack on
Camille back from a bike ride with our dog, Carly
When we do leave our nest, I plan for lots of extra time to explore anything that might catch our fancy. Museums and nature reserves and zoos are obvious great choices to bring curious children to see. We've enjoyed visiting and learning from many places like the Circus World Museum, the International Crane Foundation, the Henry Vilas zoo, and lots of state parks and natural areas. These planned excursions are great, but we also like to get side-tracked by random places along the way. Cemeteries, bridges, dams, creeks, Native American mounds, railroad tracks, a turtle on the side of the road, all of these have caused us to pull over and take a closer look.
Recently, we were planning on a nice day at home, but being that we had overdue library materials, it called for out and about. Well, 8 miles or so in either direction leads us to a library, but 20 miles away is a nice, big library plus a grocery store with a natural foods section, and friends nearby. So that's the destination for the day.
The park behind the library had a lot of construction activity, so naturally we checked it out from a safe distance.
OK, danger over, we moved on, heading to a friend's house that lived nearby, but not until we stopped at some picturesque railroad tracks by a riverside.
wild mint grew all along the edge of the tracks on this stretch
Ayla admired this lone flower in the rocks
Not all of our stops are complete successes. This one was a bit mosquito-y and when it started to rain on us the girls were ready to dash to the van.
When we arrived at our friends' house, there was time for playing and knitting and chatting and admiring babies (twins) who loved to play with my yarn. I knew it would get all unraveled and likely chewed on, but one of the babes was so fascinated and delighted that it was well worth it :)
The bigger kids were in and out playing a game of their own creation.
On the way home we stopped to see if any of the calves in this field were nursing from their mama cows. They weren't this time.
I do, too.
Back at home, I looked over some of the local travel brochures that I picked up while at the library. Maybe I'll discover some new local places to explore.
Kids' innate curiosity drives their learning. From "Mama, do worms have bones?" to "What keeps the bridge up?" to "Who is that a statue of?" We can touch on zoology, physics, history, and more. For anything that I don't have the answer for there's always google :)
I think one of the biggest factors in helping my kids learn and explore is maintaining my own curiosity. It makes for a good life, too.