Friday, October 12, 2012

Natural Learning Happens ALL the Time!

by Beverley Paine

I need to say something about the nature of natural learning.

We sleep, we wake, we breathe, we learn. Learning isn't anything different from those mundane everyday things we can't help but do. So, no matter WHAT a child IS DOING, that child is actually learning something.

Identifying what our children are learning is hard. Translating that into eduspeak is harder (and only necessary to collect a few bits of 'evidence' to report to the authorities so they stay off our back, or build our confidence in unschooling).

Valuing our children's activities (no matter what they are) can be very challenging.

But no matter what, they are learning. Heck, we learn while we're asleep! And if we reflect on our dreams by writing them in a dream journal when we wake up we can use them to help us make important decisions, understand relationships, sort out worries, problem solve, etc.

Long ago I learned that everything I encounter in life is a lesson for me. Sometimes lessons cycle in a spiral - they revisit me because I need to learn something new about that particular lesson, on a different level. I learn from people, places, experiences, things. I'm learning all the time. That's my attitude. It's infectious - my children think like that too. They aren't as passionate about it as I am, but it's awesome just how much they learn from thinking about what is going on in their lives regardless of what they are doing in each moment.

There is no real down time for learning. It's like breathing. Even if we're not consciously aware of what we're learning we're still learning. Our bodies and brains are processing, sorting, cataloging, deleting stuff we learn all the time. That's what we do, because we are alive.

That's why I totally trust that we are learning all the time and that's why I call it natural learning and that's why I differentiate it from unschooling. Natural learning is simply happening.

Now not everything that our children are learning are things we want them to learn! That's our problem, but it's one we can make choices about and act on those choices in ways that meet both our needs and our children's needs. It requires us to take a hard and perhaps long look about our goals, ambitions, expectations, standards, wants and finally and hopefully identify what our true needs are, what is most important to us right now and perhaps into the future (if we're fixated on that or need to think about it for any particular purpose). 


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