How do children learn two very difficult skills, walking and talking, without anyone's making a self-conscious effort to teach them? Could children learn other things, even "school" subjects like reading and math, in the same way, by imitating other people's behavior, making mistakes, correcting them on their own, and asking for help when they need it? --Larry and Susan Kaseman, in Taking Charge Through Homeschooling
‘How will they learn to read?’ you ask, and my answer is ‘Remember the lessons of Massachusetts.’ When children are given whole lives instead of age-graded ones in cellblocks, they learn to read, write and do arithmetic with ease, if those things make sense in the kind of life that unfolds around them.
–John Taylor Gatto
Caroline was late to the supper table last night. When she did enter the room she came in focused on her taped-together paper, pencil, and ruler. While we ate she did her work, whatever it was, quite intently.
As I tucked everyone in bed I saw “her work” taped to the hallway wall. She had carefully made a measuring chart with precise one inch increments to measure things because, well, it fascinated her.
Watching a child makes it obvious that the development of the mind comes through the movements. ~ Maria Montessori
Taco dinner was coming together slowly last night. Although Annabelle wasn’t the dinner helper she is always so willing to help. I looked at what she could do. Grate cheese. But what if she accidentally grates her chubby knuckles? Is she too young?
I gave her the block of cheese, the fine grater, and a stool. I held her hand over the cheese and showed her the motion two times and precautioned her about preserving her knuckles. I turned to finish cutting an avocado and watched her out of the corner of my eye. She slowly pushed the cheese down and across and then up. Down and across and up. And down and across and up… And she sang as she worked.
Minutes later after calling the family to the table I came to her grater and peeked inside to see a bowl full of perfectly grated cheese. My newly four-year-old did it.
All I am saying in this book can be summed up in two words: Trust Children. Nothing could be more simple, or more difficult.
Difficult because to trust children we must first learn to trust ourselves, and most of us were taught as children that we could not be trusted.
–John Holt in How Children Learn
It has taken me years to really trust my children–to really see who and what they are becoming because children are powerful, creative, intelligent people. It has taken years to really let go in our homeschooling to let them follow and explore and discover what really matters to them individually, not what is expected and tested of a child based on their age.
There is a wonderful relationship between trusting my children and growing confident, happy children.
The more I let go and trust their approach, their problem solving, their curiosity leading to discovery, and trust that real learning is taking place–not something that will be memorized for a test and forgotten the moment after– the more peace is in our home, in my child’s life, and their confidence grows as they obtain answers and knowledge because they are driven.
If we trust our children, we will be giving them confidence to become more than who they might otherwise become. We will be giving them security in their curiosities, their uniqueness, their abilities, and desires. We will be an incredible foundation for them to love learning for the rest of their lives. They will know who is their mentor, their helper, their friend when they have questions. And most importantly, who is cheering them on.
a child learns series:
the sleepy time gal