Sunday, October 4, 2009

Natural Education

We've long been contemplating the benefits of a homeschool education for Ian. It does seem to be the direction we are heading for him.  As part of his education, we will participate in outside class situations as well, so pre-school is possibly on the horizon for him as well, though there is really only one that seems to embody my parenting and educational philosophies for a young child, in that it does not involve academics in any formal way.  Perhaps next year, as he is on the wait list for the program that is 2 mornings a week.   In order to get him into the practice of being away from me for short periods, I have tried a music class, and a musical story hour. Neither of them seem to appeal to him.  

Then, one day a few weeks ago he told us he wanted to be a Farmer when he grows up. He wants to sell cucumbers and tomatoes at a farmers market.  There is a beautiful organic farm in nearby CT that offers a pre-school program 2 mornings a month. So far, he has shown tremendous interest in the idea that he is going to go learn how to be a farmer, so we are signing him up.  I think that will fulfill the space (within me) that believes in order to be well rounded as a homeschooler, he should be ok with short periods learning from someone else. That's my thing and for now, I'm sticking to it.

During this time at home he has shown a natural affinity to animals and I am a strong believer in teaching him about the natural world as much as possible. To me, this would be the strongest back-bone in any education.  A love and appreciation for natural laws starting at a very early age seems to be the most instinctual way to facilitate his learning.  

This instinct seems to be in sync with Ian.  Yesterday, we visited our friend Kelly and her son Jack (11),  who is one of Ian's favorite people in the whole wide world.  They had creatively used a stack of magazines to create ramps to jump cars over.  When it was clean up time, Ian carried in a stack of the magazines; National Geographic. He asked if we could take them home to read.  At first I resisted (for some reason), but then Kelly pointed out that he would probably really like the beautiful photography.  I noticed that he had picked out 6 or so issues with animals on the cover. So I agreed.

He was so excited last night to "read" his magazines before bed.  Snuggled in my bed, we flipped through. I stuck mostly to captions of the photos to explain them.  He was so intrigued! The first issue was about wolves. In that one, it depicted how they were hunting a moose how they battled, and ultimately shared the kill, with a bear family.  I was thrilled with how much learning went on, from this layout of photos, we talked about the circle of life, natural selection (how wolves hunting moose keep both the wolves and the moose populations healthy),  and why wolves no longer live in our area and how there are now a lot of deer. This led into a discussion of how and why predators like wolves don't live here. He was introduced to the concept of a gun for the first time.  That was a scary moment for me at first, however I am so deeply grateful that *I* was the person who taught him what a gun was. It did not come from any TV show, movie, or another child.  In that explanation, I am hoping to lay the seeds of how much respect he should have for them.  With the understanding of what they do, he agreed that they are not toys.

What I have found most amazing about him is how when presented with any information that involves the natural order of things, including reproduction, hunting, and killing he accepts that information without fear.  Photos of wolves killing a moose intrigue him, but an animated scene of animal characters acting out the same thing scare him.  It seems that his little being accepts nature in all its extremes more readily than something fabricated in the human mind. He knows truth innately and responds well to honesty and directness in my explanations.  Two National Geographic magazines gave birth to a 45 minute learning space in the snuggled warmth of my bed.   

Yes, I think homeschool will work really well for us!

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