Where does education start and where does it stop? What happens to that amazing desire to learn that all toddlers seem to possess? I wonder whether some of the problem is that many people have a narrow concept of what learning is. The stereotype (and I held this for many years) was that teaching and learning involved sitting is a classroom, blackboards, jotters, tests, projects, and that anything outside the classroom was play. I have recently had a few people ask me what age they should start educating their children, perhaps with the fear that to admit educating them at a young age sounds pushy or overly ambitious. I would suggest that many of us are educating our children from their earliest weeks.
This morning, we enjoyed a walk in our local park, which contains a duckpond, an area with swings and slides, and a beautiful ornamental garden. What ‘learning’ did the boys get out of this?
Ornithology: By the age of two and a half, they can name coots, moorhens, Canada geese, mallard ducks, swans, herons, doves, pigeons. They are fascinated by the rapid growth of the young birds which were all cute and fluffy a few weeks ago, and are now progressing through a slightly ugly stage!
Botany: They ask me what every type of tree or bush is, and only seem to need to be told once for the knowledge to stick. Often I am ashamed by my own areas of ignorance, and need to look things up when I get home!
Physics: Why does a stick float in water, whereas a conker sinks? What happens to the puddles when the sun comes out? What is evaporation? Why are there ripples in the water?
Geography: Why is it summer? Why has it stopped raining now? Is it summer in Africa?
Safety: Why can’t I jump in the pond? Why do I need to stay on the path?
Sharing/ socialisation: Playing with other children in the swingpark, and learning to wait their turn for the swings.
Physical education: They are rapidly progressing in agility and ability to master some of the more complicated climbing frames. I barely need to supervise my three year old any more on these. They burn off lots of extra energy and get quite short of breath with all that running around.
Imaginative play: We collected sticks and build an imaginary fire to cook imaginary fish on. We sat round the fire and told stories and sang some songs. Later, we made a pile of hay for an imaginary horse to come and eat later on.
Spiritual education: How awesome is God our Creator who cares about every detail of nature? Isn't it incredible that God even made these tiny little flowers? If he cares about two sparrows, how much more does he care about us? And many other questions and conversations that flow seamlessly from what we are doing at the time.
As with the previous post on cooking, I am sure there are more. But my purpose is simply to inspire you. Certainly at the start, home education does not need lots of formal training or curricula, but can simply embrace the learning opportunities which flow throughout daily life. Anybody can do it, and both you and your children will benefit. And it remains fun and exciting!