Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Letting Go

When I first started homeschooling, I thought there was no way I would ever want to unschool.  However, over the last four years, I have discovered that my younger two children have a love of learning that I do not want to interfere with.  They are passionate about things to the point of exclusion of all else.  Dominic is more like this than Xavier.  Dominic will stay passionate about something for a few weeks or months, consuming all the information he can get his hands on before moving on to another topic.

This bothered me for a while.  After all, this is not the traditional way of doing things.  Traditionally, we give our children an overview of topics, not providing real depth until they reach college, or if they're lucky, high school.  However, lately I have begun to realize this is the way he learns best.  I introduce him to a variety of things.  When he gets interested in something, it is to his benefit to let him investigate it until his passion wanes.  When he is passionate about something, he learns it much better.  His interest motivates him to learn more.

So far, Dominic's been passionate about the human body, guns, airplanes, Harry Potter, and general science.  Currently, he is passionate about blowing bubbles, the science encyclopedia, herbs, and Lord of the Rings.

Xavier learns a little differently.  He likes to do something different every day.  In fact, he wants to do something different every five minutes.  However, it is working for him.

Yesterday, I let go of the plans I had for school and took the two little boys grocery shopping with me, because they were getting on my nerves.  I figured they needed to get out of the house as much as I did.  First, we went to Tractor Supply, where the boys spent their time trying to convince me to buy chicks, and on Xavier's part, bunnies.  Next, we went to the grocery store, where the boys got free balloons.  Xavier had been studying chemistry, and piped up, "Do these have hot air or helium in them?"  The response, of course, was helium.

After we returned to the car, Xavier started a long discourse on helium, and why it wouldn't be practical to put hot air in a small balloon to keep it aloft.  (It would cool quickly and the balloon would fall.)  He taught his younger brother all about helium, the fact that it is the lightest element, the fact that it has an atomic number of 1.  Dominic asked Xavier questions and Xavier answered them.  It was the best oral quiz I have ever witnessed, probably because it was organic in nature.  It flowed.  It wasn't meant to test what Xavier knew, rather to inform someone else.  I enjoyed listening to it.

Right now, Xavier is studying history.  He's listening to The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child, Vol. 3: Early Modern Times, 2nd Edition (9 CDs).  He's already listened to information about the three kingdoms of Korea.  This particular information was of interest to him because we have to know about it for taekwondo.  It is so fun to see the way our life gives us information, then our schooling reinforces it.  The boys love seeing things in their school books that they've already seen other places, and vice versa.  Earlier, he was reading The Periodic Table: Elements with Style!  He loves it.  He would like me to get him other books in this series.  I think I will.

Other favorite series are the Horrible History, Horrible Science, and Murderous Maths (which Xavier LOVES!).

I think I'll continue letting go.  Passion for learning, after all, is what I want most to accomplish with this homeschooling adventure.

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