Interest led learning is a common catch phrase in the unschool community. The basics are simple — your kids’ interests dictate what they learn. This “style of learning” seems glaringly obvious to me. If the kids like it, they want to learn more. But, since they are little kids, they need help. Lots of help. And that’s where the facilitator (me!) comes in.
Mr.8 participated in 18 months of intensive 4 days a week martial arts. We still aren’t sure why he dropped Oom Yung Doe like a hot rock but his love of Asian, particularly Japanese, culture is flourishing. We frequently watch youtube tourism videos from Japan, look at google images of Japan national landmarks, check out books about Japan from the library and read articles about “where to travel” in Japan. While his Pokemon obsession might have passed, he is very much into all anime cartoons offered on Netflix. An early birthday present was a map of Japan and a tourism book aimed at kids. He is convinced we will embark on our trip to Japan in a few years and I always agree his dream trip will happen. Why would I say otherwise? My fears of a wildly expensive country…..soy sauce gluten….rice heavy meals in a grain-free family…..whatever. I do want to see Japan with my boy and I don’t dare dash his dreams.
My former teacher brain constantly makes mental plans for fantastic projects about Japan. Create a brochure of your favorite landmark! Make a poster with details of your favorite anime cartoon charter! Design an itinerary of a future trip to Japan! But, this is not Mr.8’s style and pushing these activities would only serve to make learning about Japan a chore rather than a pleasure. I know my child and this is a fact of life for us.
Ms.7 is a craft queen. Her passion is easy to fulfill. Fancy supplies are nice but a piece of paper, a few crayons and a pair of scissors overflow her craft cup. Following in the footsteps of her older brother, she isn’t interested in dictated projects. Her creativity needs no instruction, nor does she want it.
Mr. 4 is something special. He hasn’t reached “school age” so expectations are low on what he is supposed to know. Every 4 year old I know, including my own, likes dinosaurs and trains, so 4 year olds play with dinosaurs and trains. They watch shows about dinosaurs and trains. They check out library books about dinosaurs and trains. They color dinosaur and train coloring sheets. Nobody questions their love of dinosaurs and trains. This love is cultivated and curated by parents and grandparents. Everyone claps and oohs when a 4 year old identifies 10 different types of dinosaurs and parts of the train.
Watching my youngest grow and learn makes me wonder why interest led learning isn’t the educational (or at least, homeschool) standard. Why is it easy for us to follow our little one’s leads but we accept government’s dictates regarding what older children must learn and master?
Of course, it goes without saying that interest led learning easily covers all subject areas without the kids even realizing. That is the essence of our unschool day. 24 hours of learning . . . all day . . . everyday.