Be Flexible – Learning Does Not Have a “Face”
The most attractive asset available for homeschooling families is flexibility. Not just the freedom to change what is not working, but in the process of building a framework for life-long learning, releasing the notion that learning, in and of itself, has a face; and that it must look like “x” or “y”.
For instance, when my older daughter Emelie was moving through her three years of ASL (American Sign Language), Meredith often chose to join us on the hour-and-a-half journey, and two hour class block. This required that she carefully select the work she felt most capable of accomplishing in the midst of a somewhat noisy coffee house environment where we went after dropping off her sister. Of course, this was the same decision I made each week in my office away from home – choosing email correspondence and design over writing posts.
In this instance, her learning environment was a Starbucks. She planned accordingly, and took responsibility for her day’s schedule and made certain to schedule an earlier morning to push through the work she knew she could not do away from home – be it because of a lack of space, materials, or just the sheer number of interruptions intrinsic to an active public place.
It was Meredith’s choice to make, and she made the necessary adjustments for accomplishing her daily goals without missing out on time with her sister and me.
How Expectations Can Thwart Flexibility
Recently, I wrote about living at the epicenter of a navigational nightmare. My home is the first (or last, depending on the perspective) home on Rollingwood Drive. Just a few feet from my driveway Woodland Valley Drive begins, which would not be a problem for most people if we lived on a corner, but we do not – we live in the middle of an ongoing street. One moment drivers are on Rollingwood Drive, and then, when they pass our home, they are on Woodland Valley Drive.
I watch the same cars pass by two or three times, but the drivers simply cannot grasp that midway the street changes names, even with the laughable street sign that clearly designates the somewhat abrupt transition.
Why is this so hard to grasp? Expectations.
We have expectations based on experience, and that experience tells us that streets maintain the same name until, at the least, a cross street interrupts the flow. When what we see fails to measure up to what we expect, it takes a bit of time to absorb, adjust, and “recompute”.
The same inflexible, trapped thinking applies to an approach many take with their children’s education. For those of us raised in public or private school scenarios, learning looks like a building full of classrooms, teachers, and standardized curriculum, but just like a church is not a building, but instead, a body of believers, learning is not an identifiable structure so much as it is a body of knowledge, with knowledge being the application of experiential learning.
Thankfully, a solid education can occur anywhere.
To offer our children the best possible learning experiences, we must toss the assumption that learning requires a certain place or position. Rather, that unconventional, effective learning happens every day, from the back seat of a big rig, on a 40′ Lagoon Catamaran, driving an RV across the country while entering kayaking competitions, or in the offices of members of the state legislature.
Flexibility paints a more positive educational outcome – allowing kids to discover whom they are in a safe environment that builds confidence and fosters independence.
Children mature into young adults as they begin to see their strengths and weaknesses, and with guidance, will set their own individualized path toward their future goals, all the while excelling and owning their learning experience.
Do your children have a flexible learning environment? Do you agree/disagree that flexibility is a crucial part of growing and learning?
Published September 2, 2013. Last updated April 23, 2017.