Something that seems to keep coming up, as usual at this time of year, is how important it is for children to mix with those their own age. How crucial school is for a child to learn to socialise.
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, I’ll say it until the end of time. Children do not need to be around a large group of children their own age to learn! In fact, children learn brilliantly from those slightly older, What can they learn by way of progression if they spend all their time with people at the same age and stage as them?
I have said it before, I will say it again…. I have observed children learning freely and naturally. I’m not talking solely academically, I am talking risk taking, trial and error, problem solving, group game rules and friendships. I am talking pure socialisation. Not to be confused with the forced association of having to spend 6 hrs a day 5 days a week with the same people. The stuff that can’t be taught, it is acquired knowledge and strengthened through practise. I see this all the time. When home educated children get together ages, gender, abilities stop being divides and start just being “one of the group”. If a child can’t do something, they aren’t segregated into their own group of “those who cant” they are supported, helped and encouraged to learn by those who can!
I have watched my teenagers help others learn to swim and build water confidence. I have watched my 13 year old help a friend learn to ride a bike! And it doesn’t end there, when using gym equipment at a home ed meet I watched the children learning from each other. So my son, aged 2 at the time, watched the teenagers running and jumping, and he couldn’t manage that. But he kept watching and some smaller children who also couldn’t jump it came along. They could climb and jump off. He watched them for a few minutes, tried it himself and nailed it! Sure I might have sprouted a few more grey hairs in the process but THAT is what natural learning looks like!
I have seen children learn to read, not by being taught, But by enjoying being read too and by watching other children read.
Of course I am not suggesting that as home educating parents we step back completely, many of us spend large amounts of time carefully planning, resourcing and researching methods and subjects for our children’s educational benefit. But there is clearly a lot to be said from allowing children freedom to mix, without being segregated by age.
I watched this pixar short about a baby bird learning to get food. All the birds in the flock are wading and they run away from each wave. They catch small (clams*) as they stay so close to the shore line and work quickly. This poor baby bird got scared by the waves….. then met some crabs. The crabs weren’t scared of the waves, they would simply bury into the sand and allow the waves to wash over them. The baby bird learnt from this and you see him catching massive clams and bouncing around with no fear. It’s a lovely little film, But at the same time it really highlighted to me how much our children benefit from breaking out of the box we put them in, mixing with different people, different backgrounds, different ages. I have learnt so much from people I have met since home educating, families from all over. And my dad who is 69yrs old says the same thing, so of course our children will benefit. Had that baby bird not met those crabs, he would have stayed with all the other birds, catching small clams quickly and forever scared of the waves.