Naturally

Even though I spend a lot of time on this blog talking about learning, one of the good things about life learning is that it happens almost without the kids knowing it, in many cases.    Which makes it a more natural process, like learning to walk or talk.    We don’t stop in the middle of baking brownies and say, “And NOW we are learning fractions!”

Ben is what I think of as a ‘true’ life learner.   Maya started out in a more traditional curriculum based homeschool routine, and I sometimes see it in the way she approaches things.   She has a bit of the ‘but it should be learned this way’ about her.  (Partly that is due to her personality, but it was definitely underscored by our early homeschooling.)    Ben has never had a traditional, sit down and follow a curriculum lesson.    His mind absorbs information in ways I don’t always fathom – like how he went from not reading at all to reading chapter books almost overnight – and he is a great advertisement for life learning.

For example, when he was 4 years old, Maya took the 3rd Grade Iowa Test (a standardized test) just for ‘fun’.  (It was right after that we ditched any form of traditional learning.  Hmm, could there be a connection?)   The very last section of the test was a short story which I read aloud.   Then I read the questions out loud, and Maya was supposed to choose the right answer from the options given on the answer sheet.   Standard multiple choice test stuff.   While I was reading the story out loud to her, Ben was sitting at my sewing machine, his back to us, sewing a bag or a pillow or something.    After I read the story, I moved on to the questions.   I read the first one and when I was done Ben yelled out the correct answer, his back still to us and while still sewing.   “Umm, that’s right, Ben,” I said, and Maya whispered, “It’s ok. I already knew that was the answer.”   The second question was read aloud with the same result.  No sooner had I finished asking it than Ben, happily sewing, yelled out the answer.

It was a 3rd grade test.  He was 4 years old.

Then there was the whole reading thing.   And most recently, the days of the week.   Maya knew the days of the week by the time she was 5.   And the months of the year in order.     Ben has never shown any interest in the order of the days or months, despite his sister periodically telling him he ‘needs’ to learn them.  (I had to mention to her that Ben learns differently than she does, and that he will figure it out when it becomes important to him.  Just like he did with reading.)

Cut to our trip to Florida, where we found and bought a calendar built from Lego that Ben wanted primarily because it contained two Lego mini-figures that he did not have.   But of course he put the calendar together as well, arranging it to match the front of the box which conveniently showed September.   The day we got back from our trip he walked into the living room and said, “Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday.”   It was the first time he’d ever made any attempt to say the days of the week in order.    I imagine the months will be next.

Maya is learning all the time as well, but it’s not quite the same.   Her brain works more ‘traditionally’, for lack of a better word, and so it is easier for me to understand how she comes by her learning.    It’s all good and it is one of the great benefits of our lifestyle that there is no right or wrong way.

On a different note, this Saturday Maya will be spending the entire day learning to use Final Cut, the pro video editing software she purchased last month.   Wiley Abbas the video editor we met through the Pilates studio I go to, will be coming to our apartment to work with her so that she can use her own laptop and hard drive.   He’s bringing his as well, and told me he plans to bring an actual project that needs editing.     At the end of the day, not only will Maya have first hand experience of working with the software, but Wiley is going to give her an Assistant Editor credit on the project as well.

How cool is that?!

About Amy

Amy Milstein was born and raised on a farm in Indiana, but after 20+ years considers herself a full-fledged New Yorker. She is married with two kids, who do not go to school but are instead life learners. This means they learn by living in the world (real life ) instead of hearing about it and simulating it in a classroom. With her family, Amy loves to travel, read, watch movies, write, sew, knit - the list is endless.
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