Thursday, September 09, 2010

Scheduled/planned learning versus Natural Learning

I have found that the longer I homeschool the more aware I become of the natural learning moments that come up and it's caused me to question as to which type of learning is more effect - the scheduled/planned learning or the natural learning.

I didn't really have anything in particular planned for little one's learning today.  Her Dad is still off and she likes spending time with him and often doesn't get to spend a lot of time with him so I'm letting her make the most of this time.  We'll catch up on the planned learning later.  In the meantime, I'm sure that she's learning lots while she's following him around all day.  On top of that, I make the most of the moments that she does come spend with me during the day.

Little one loves to read - well, she loves being read to because she's not actually reading on her own yet.  At one point today she came to me and asked me to read her a book.  We make regular visits to the library and always have a big batch of books on hand. 

The book that little one chose for me to read to her today - I always let her choose which books to read - was Brave Highland Heart by Heather Kellerhals-Stewart, with illustrations by Werner Zimmermann.  What a lovely book!  The illustrations and writing seemed to engulf us today as we took our time and read through the book discussing different things that came up while we read. 

The book is about a little girl who wants to stay up and celebrate the ceilidh with her family.  We talked about the bag pipes featured in the story and about the kilts.  This led us to decide that once we finished reading the book we would search on youtube for videos where we could listen to the bagpipes and see the people dressed in the traditional dress and doing the traditional dances.

This has become a ritual for us lately.  Something in a book that we've read sends us searching the internet for more information and we've traveled some amazing bunny trails of learning.  Little one loves it, and so do I.

Aside from our internet search, we also checked out her inflatable globe that we have sitting at the top of our watercooler and I pointed out to her where Scotland was and what continent it was on.  Of course we also talked about where it was in relation to where we live.

While we were reading I also took the time to explain to her the meanings of words that were new to her and pointed out to her words that she is starting to recognize and asked her to help me sound out some others that I knew would be easy for her.

Later tonight, just before bedtime, she came to me asking me to read to her again.  This time the book that she chose was Beach Ball by Peter Sis.  Though this is a book of few words we found ourselves lingering over the pages and we only made it through the first few pages before our reading time was up.  She begged for more but I promised we'd come back to the book tomorrow.

This book is one of those books where you search the pages for all that things that are hidden in them.  I'm not usually a big fan of those books but I like this one. 

One of the spreads that we did manage to get through tonight had us searching for things that began with the different letters of the alphabet.  Unbeknownst to little one while we were doing this I was checking out to see if she recognized the letters and the sounds that each of the letters made.  I wasn't the least bit surprised to discover that she did. 

Another spread had us looking for things of different colors and patterns.  Once again, unbeknownst to her I was checking to be sure that she recognized and could name the different colors and types of patterns.  Once again I wasn't surprised to discover that she could. 

The next page had us looking for numbers of things and of course once again I was taking advantage of the chance to see if she recognized the numerals and could estimate the number of items and then check by counting.  Once again no problem. 

And we had so much fun as we went through all this.  We're looking forward to doing the shapes, opposites, and animal pages tomorrow.

So, while there wasn't any scheduled/planned learning for today, it doesn't mean that learning didn't take place.  There was lots of natural learning taking place and I sometimes wonder if that kind of learning doesn't have a more lasting impact than the scheduled/planned learning.

That's what's on my mind today.


crisc23 said...

I think it all depends on the child. With my daughter she does a lot better when it's structured. My son it depends how he's feeling =)

Infant Bibliophile said...

I struggle with this too. We just recently started doing (very loosely) structured learning, and I have no doubt in my mind that he learns more from just spending time with me playing board games, reading, going to museums, etc. But I set up the formal stuff (just "learning boxes" that I fill with activities) for a few reasons. We have a baby coming in the fall, and I'm afraid that without anything like that to fall back on, he might get stuck in front of a video as I tend to the newborn more often than I'd like. And, with winter coming, I have trouble getting stir crazy around the house doing the same things over and over. So the boxes force me to mix things up and create new activities for both of us. Sorry for the long comment! This has been on my mind a lot lately too. :)