Monday, May 2, 2016

Natural Learning Family Profile: Amie

On this blog's Facebook page, I recently asked interested readers to share their family's personal story toward natural, self-directed learning. I will be profiling these wonderful stories over the next few weeks. If you would like to add to the conversation and share your family's personal story toward learning and away from schooling, please email me at: kmcdonald@post.harvard.edu. I hope to hear from you! ~Kerry



Now, here is today's natural learning story from Amie at Becoming A Wild Family:
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Almost a year ago, I started reading a book called How to Raise a Wild Child: The Art and Science of Falling in Love with Nature, by Scott Sampson. It changed how I wanted to raise our four children, but it wasn't until the beginning of this new year (2016) that I fully embraced a lifestyle and homeschool change. 

Going outside and playing in nature is so important, as is learning about your environment - trees, flowers, how to grow and cook food.  Also, I want my children to know what makes our community and city special - and by using the community's resources we gain an authentic relationship with its history and geography.

I have always been an eclectic teacher for my children, but when my youngest gave me such push-back in strategies that had worked for the older three, I knew something needed to change--and it was going to have to be me!

Normally, we were an "at-home" type of people, but I decided to see what programs our city offered, and I was shocked at how may free or almost-free classes there were that we could attend. So I booked us for everything I could!

We would do our field trips, usually daily, and if no classes were offered, we would go explore the wild. But when we got home (often tired and hungry), I still felt that we needed to do some sort of formal schooling with paper and pencil.

One day, I was forcing everyone to write about our recent trip to see the Eagles migrate. The older three didn't mind but the youngest (6) was so animated he just wanted to TELL me everything and I really felt like he HAD to WRITE. So, he held the freshly sharpened pencil in his hand like a good little student, as he told me how he saw the eagle jump from the nest to fly... and he jumped and belly-flopped onto his pencil!

You cannot imagine the horror I felt as I realized what had happened. The pencil went into his side and I about panicked (Ok, I was freaking out on the inside but I had to calm him down with a smile as I pulled it out.) I AM SO LUCKY!!! He was okay, but at that moment I finished making the full jump into unschooling!! I was not going to force unnatural learning onto my children!

Now, we take our classes and talk about them and enjoy them for what they are: the very best kind of learning experiences. I do ask my children to write sometimes, but I don't force it (it's more like a diary), and I see their writing improve (especially the 8 year old boy who never knew what to write, and now has pages of writing).  We also write notes to family and mail the letters. We read together and independently. We watch Netflix and YouTube nature shows and drawing tutorials. And sometimes we learn math because it's cool - protractors and compasses and angles are FUN!

But honestly, my main homeschool and family goal is to become a wild family that embraces nature, learns from it, loves it, and plays in it!

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Amie Elna has an elementary education degree and a Master's degree in reading instruction, and so she sometimes has internal fights with what she was taught (and is still paying student loans for) and what she knows to be right and true - which is that children learn without worksheets and flash cards and desks and textbooks! Amie blogs at Becoming A Wild Family, where she shares her family's learning adventures in nature and the community.

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