"Children do not need to be made to learn about the world, or shown how. They want to, and they know how." -John Holt

Monday, September 17, 2007

Unschooling with a Grandma

*(This is an e-mail my mother (and founder of GrandLEAP -check out their newly designed logo!)- sent after their 8 mile journey.)

Bought Gabriel a new bike and thought we'd try it out on the Rail Trail. We started thinking we'd be back in an hour or so but our trip turned into a 4-hour adventure. We ended up biking 8 miles!!!!! Now that's a lot of miles for a little kid with training wheels but you should have seen him go. He was thrilled that there were no cars and that the path was straight and flat. He had on a smile from ear to ear and he would occasionally slam on his brakes to see something that caught his eye. His first abrupt stop was for a beautiful yellow caterpillar that was crossing the road. He jumped off his bike to save it from a certain death. Next he said, "Isn't that a beautiful song?", referring to a distant bird. He's so in tune to his environment. While most kids his age started school this week, here we were in the wilderness talking about the following things:

1. types of trees (birch/pine/maple/oak)
2. what makes leaves turn colors
3. Chlorophyll in the leaves and what it does
4. evergreen trees/Christmas trees and why evergreen trees turn brown if they are supposed to stay green
5. we read signs (No motorized vehicles, STOP, save the Lupines(they're endangered), cattle crossing, town names etc.)
6. talked about going as fast as a cheetah which prompted going as slow as a sloth (discussion on those two animals)
7. talked about marsupials and named some and how kangaroos and koalas only live in Australia
8. discussed marsupials pockets and which way they carry their young
9. talked about koalas not being a bear
10. looked at old leaves and their visible veins and then looked at our veins in our hands
11. we talked about leaves dying and he asked if it hurt to die
12. we discussed the blue sky and wispy clouds
13. we examined a pond and saw frogs
14. we watched water fall over a dam
15. we explored an underground tunnel
16. we found some deer dung as analyzed by Gabe
17. we learned that the right side of the road is on the other side coming home
18. he learned to thank the motorist who let us go by
19. he shouted "good morning" to bicyclist who thought he was the cutest thing ever
20. he found a rock that he was sure was a meteorite and wanted to look it up on the internet. I said it needed a name before i could look it up so he said, "I have a name for it, "moonrock"
21. we talked about how Indians use to make canoes out of birch bark
22. he learned that trees and plants give us food, housing, medicine, clothes etc.
23. we talked about Alaska and how light it stays until late and how Grandma Donna brought him a rock from there
24. we talked about how long a mile is

The trip back was very slow. We enjoyed an ice cream at the half way mark and then headed back. We must have stopped 25 times to rest and to see various things. I wish I had had my camera when he was lying across the handle bars and dragging his feet. The poor thing! But he plugged along and said, "Next time, we shouldn't go so far!" .............and I'm sure there was more. Unfortunately I had no camera or tape recorder for any of this. He was absolutely adorable. And even before we started on our trip he shouted in the distance, "Hey Grandma, you're the best!" What a great day!

1 comment:

Sarah, Chris, Elijah & Sadie said...

Yeah Grandma! You are the best!!!!

"By nature people are learning animals. Birds fly; fish swim; humans think and learn. Therefore, we do not need to motivate children into learning by wheedling, bribing, or bullying. We do not need to keep picking away at their minds to make sure they are learning. What we need to do - and all we need to do - is to give children as much help and guidance as they need and ask for, listen respectfully when they feel like talking, and then get out of the way. We can trust them to do the rest."
John Holt
"In the end, the secret to learning is so simple: Think only about whatever you love. Follow it, do it, dream about it...and it will hit you: learning was there all the time, happening by itself." -Grace Llewellyn
"What we want to see is the child in pursuit of knowledge, not knowledge in pursuit of the child."
George Bernard Shaw
Real, natural learning is in the living. It's in the observing, the questioning, the examining, the pondering, the analyzing, the watching, the reading, the DO-ing, the living, the breathing, the loving, the JOY. It's in the joy. ~Anne Ohman
"How could youth better learn to live than by at once trying the experiment of living?" -Henry D. Thoreau