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Written by Shawna Wingert of Not the Former Things
My son talked me into buying him a plastic ceramics wheel this year.
“But I looooooooooooooooove it, Momma. And I know how much you like me working on my art.”
(I’m a sucker, y’all.)
He was so excited. We set it up the next morning, right after breakfast. After mixing up the clay, we got to it.
Five minutes later, there was clay splattered all over my dining room. I mean all over. Like a crime scene that you don’t want to look at, but just can’t stop yourself.
He went to the bathroom to wash up as I tried to clean-up the mess.
After about ten minutes of trying to figure out the best way to get drying clay off the ceiling, I realized it was a little too quiet. I went to look for him and found clay finger painting all over the bathroom sink and counter.
“This works too, Momma,” he said with a grin.
I thought to myself, “We need to do more worksheets.”
School, or at least what I do to educate my two boys and loosely call school, looks nothing like my own experience.
I loved school and all the school-y things.
I loved handwriting practice and cleaning my desk at the end of the day.
Worksheets made me happy.
And don’t get me started on putting my name in the top-left corner before starting any assignment.
But the truth is, much to my chagrin sometimes, my boys are very different children than I was.
For one thing, they are much smarter. (And I am not just saying that to be humble or brag or both – they are genuinely too smart for their own good sometimes.)
Part of their intense intellects means they love one subject furiously for a period of time and then move on to the next.
For my oldest, it was ocean life and fish tanks last year. Now it’s computer builds and chemistry.
For my youngest, it’s always animals and Australia.
Try to get them to work on something outside of their interests, and it’s like trying to put a shoe on the wrong foot. Sure, you can get it on, but it’s not going to feel comfortable or allow you to really get anywhere.
Is This Self-Directed Learning Or Complete Chaos?
My answer to this question is, “Yes.”
It really is both most of the time.
Sometimes, allowing my boys to direct their own learning means it will get a bit messy, both physically and figuratively.
What I am learning is that it’s OK. I am learning to let go and allow learning to take its course, no matter how much I want to control it or clean it up.
I am learning to trust my boys’ intellect and curiosity.
And I beginning to understand that even when it looks like complete chaos, they’re learning.
They’re learning how to discover things on their own.
They’re learning what methods work best for their different learning styles and preferences.
They’re learning diligence and persistence.
Most of all, they are learning how capable they are as individuals.
A little chaos is a small price to pay for all they’re learning.
Love this Post?
Be sure to listen to S1E6: JUST BECAUSE IT’S DIFFERENT, DOESN’T MEAN IT’S LESS: CHATTING WITH SHAWNA WINGERT
In this episode, the sisters chat with one of their most favorite people: Shawna Wingert. Shawna is a writer, speaker, author, and homeschool mom to two amazing boys with special needs. Do you ever feel like your homeschool doesn’t or can’t look like the homeschool next door, or the family at church or co-op, or even all the families on the internet? Shawna joins the sisters to remind you that it’s OK and that just because you have to do things a little differently, that doesn’t mean what you are doing is less.
Listen to the episode here | Check out the show notes
BE SURE TO FOLLOW SHAWNA
Shawna writes at Not The Former Things and you can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
You can also find Shawna on the following sites:
- Autism Speaks
- For Every Mom
- Simple Homeschool
- Ed Snapshots: Homeschool Snapshots Podcast
- The Huffington Post
- The Mighty
- The SPD Zone Podcast
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2 thoughts on “Is this self-directed learning or complete chaos?”
Just one thought, because I see a lot of moms cleaning up messes from “self-directed learning”. I think there should also be “self-directed clean up”. In real life, when you make a mess, you clean it up. We don’t need to raise any more people that think someone else will clean up after them (ahem, current political figure that won’t be named). We don’t need oceans covered in waste, or mothers who give up home schooling because they’re worn out. We should teach our little ones to be responsible and thinking of others. 🙂