It’s holiday time and I am loving my sleep ins!! I am however aware of meeting my children in the mornings; organising a great breakfast and encouraging them to think about what they want to create in the day. When I am ready for them in the morning I find things flow better. I am lucky enough that Trent is up earlier than me and he lets the chickens out, brings in wood and stokes the fire. It is wonderful to wake up to a cup of tea lovingly prepared by him and a warm home.
We are encouraging the children to read and spell everyday over the holidays and while it is not something they necessarily want to do, we have started on a good note. I am asking them to do this so that they may ‘catch-up’ in their literacy and I think they understand its necessity at this time. I catch myself pondering its worth, it is something I can’t help believing is imposed on them but I also believe it may serve them as they are now in the school system.
Kai and Tus can acknowledge where this practice and commitment will serve them when they return to school next term but Cove gets frustrated with me, wanting to choose for himself. I totally get him and I am wondering how I can make it something he can enjoy doing with me. Luckily Kai and Tus can be independent and this gives me the freedom to work things out with Cove.
While supporting the children with doing things that will make school easier there are a few things that underpin all my communication and my encouragement.
- There are times in life where we commit to investing our time on growing in areas of our lives. We talk about achieving mastery in literacy and numeracy so that we can be independent in our learning. Independent, in this context, means that they will be able to learn what ever they want, without depending on me or anyone else to do it for them.
- We all learn differently and they each have to find the conditions that make learning easy and enjoyable for them. Do they need the quiet? Do they like working alone or would they prefer to work along side or with someone else? Do they enjoy listening to music as they work? There is no right way to learn, it is up to each of them to work out what they need as they learn and I will support whatever that is. I have given them a starting point; for example, we do 5 words a day and half an hour of reading. I have encouraged them however, to decide if it works for them. If not, then I will support what they feel they need to do. My boundary lies in setting aside an hour a day to focus on reading and spelling but I would love them to use that time in a way that is most enjoyable and most effective for them.
- While we have somehow broken literacy into a million pieces I encourage the children to understand that it is all linked and that if they have learnt to speak all on their own, that all the rest can be as easy. All the words they are learning to spell on demand have been in their vocabulary since they began to speak as toddlers, it’s there already. All we are doing is finding and exploring its patterns and quirky ways so that they can use those words in all areas of literacy; in reading, in writing, in spelling, in story telling, in understanding what we read and hear, in communicating and in expressing themselves.
As a side note; why have we taken something beautiful and natural and turned it into a complex web of skills, concepts, levels and expectations?
Our children have learnt to speak our language with effortless abandon and with ease. Every year their vocabulary increases, their understanding of words and their meaning deepens and how they use language expands. All this they have achieved without a curriculum, without structured lessons and without testing. I believe we have made learning to read, spell and write so much more complicated than it should be. We wonder why so many children struggle with literacy. Maybe it is because we force them into it when they are not ready and we do that because we believe they must. I just can’t help but believe if we actually left them to it, they would learn what they need, quickly and with ease.
PS. This is a picture I took yesterday when Cove CHOSE to practice his writing on his own. His work is one million times better and 100% more valuable than what he did with me today. This is an example of the power of allowing our children to be SELF-INSPIRED rather than forcing them to follow our agenda.
So what do I do then? I am torn between ‘forcing’ them to practice and letting them work it out for themselves. Unfortunately school doesn’t allow the time it may take for them to work it out and thus it forces us to force them. I am therefore trying to make the most of it and my focus is on the messages they are receiving from school and from me.
They are not fooled, so I am allowing the process to be transparent and real.