I’ve talked about the art of strewing in the past, but for those who are just joining us, strewing means discovering things in which your kids are interested and then leaving things around for them to find and do related to those things. Another facet of strewing is doing something (in my case, it’s usually sewing or crocheting) while the kids are around, and watching how they almost magically ask to take part. Many a tote bag has been sewn in our house as a result of this type of ‘strewing’. I’ve also been known to pop in a documentary (like for instance “Waiting for Superman”) in the middle of the afternoon, grab my knitting and sit down in front of the TV to watch. Within minutes I am usually joined by one or both kids, and after a brief explanation of the subject matter, we watch together. Strewing. It’s a great thing.
Gift strewing, then, is strewing by way of giving gifts that will spark or encourage an interest. This year, both my kids got such gifts. Maya received a knitting machine from my parents, and Ben got a fully equipped toolbox, complete with hand drill, level, saw, etc., from my brother and his wife. Ben also got a Nintendo DS, and Maya a new DS game (she has the console already) and although they did spend time on video games, a lot of time was spent knitting and drilling holes in wood. (also thoughtfully provided by my brother.) This is the best kind of learning there is. It is so fun and organic that it has none of the negative connotations sometimes associated with ‘lessons’.
Sometimes when people ask my kids ‘what’s your favorite subject’ they receive blank stares in return. Subject? Maya knows what this means and on occasion will politely say ‘reading’ or ‘spelling’, but other times will just say, ‘I don’t know’ or ‘we don’t really learn any subjects’. So far I’ve not been able to leave it at that, because this often results in an uncomfortable pause in the conversation, and I can just hear people thinking things like, “They don’t learn any subjects?! What IS that mother doing with her children?” So then I leap in and give a brief explanation of unschooling, or life learning. I don’t go in to the concept of ‘strewing’, but maybe I should. See, I think that the fact that my kids can’t or don’t categorize their learning into ‘subjects’ is a good thing. Their learning is completely integrated into their living, and they have a hard time separating the two. This is as it should be. Life should not be separate from learning. Learning should not be compartmentalized – at least not until they are focused on a chosen profession, field or business. And even then, I would hope that their chosen path is an integral part of their life and not something they do so that they can get back to their life.
Strew a little. Or a lot. You’ll enjoy the results. Guaranteed.