She likes it!

She likes it!

Broccoli, that is. I gave Bella some leftover broccoli at lunch, thinking it would be automatically ejected, and was surprised that she ate one piece after another after another. That’s my girl.

In the Scott household, broccoli is a holiday necessity. Always served with holiday sauce (that’s hollandaise to the more culinary astute). I remember one Thanksgiving when my poor mom thought she’d do something different. You’d have thought she’d suggested we leave off the turkey! I doubt there are many households where all of the children fight to get to the last piece of broccoli. Looks like ours might be another in the making.

Also, Isabella has a new game.

This afternoon I looked up to see that she was holding onto the side of the coffee table and squatting, standing, squatting, standing.

I started to say, “Down, up! Down, up!” whenever she squatted. She started to laugh. And a game was born.

Later, after her nap, I said, “Down,” and she squatted. She remembered. We’ve played it a couple of times today. Sometimes I initiate, by saying, Down…” and waiting for her to squat.  Sometimes she initiates by squatting and watching to see if I’ll say, “Down!”

Uproarious laughter every time.

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  • Unschooling gets a bad rap because of some of its more outspoken proponents.  You might enjoy looking at the blog of a Catholic unschooling mom I know in Australia.  We have been in contact for several years. One of her sons stayed with us for a couple of weeks when he toured America.  The blog is:

  • Watch out. This is also one of the guys who made modern education what it is. He’s the guy who got schools to get away from content and focus on process. He’s the guy who gave us “feel good” education, in which children’s self esteem is the most important value. Yeah, he eventually threw up his arms and started advocating homeschooling—after his theories had done lasting damage.

  • As a freind says, tho’—take the meat of the thing and leave the bones. 

    I also like Leo Buscaglia’s way of educating.  He actually sees each student before him.

  • Bill,

    Look at my previous homeschooling posts and book reviews. I’m not the kind of person to jump on a bandwagon or even to wholesale adopt any single educational philosophy, methodology, or curriculum. My concern in every survey of homeschooling theory, advice, and materials is to seek out what is useful, make note of what seems reasonable, and to discard what doesn’t seem reasonable or fit with my values.

    I should also add that as my sole child is only ten months old all of this is still theoretical anyway. I’m conducting a survey to see what’s out there and get a feel of the lay of the land. I haven’t even got to the point of trying to map out a course. That would seem to be rather premature at this point. I also believe in being flexible, not committing myself too soon to any one path and planning to adapt to real circumstances as they arise.

    Like I said at the beginning of the post, unschooling is not very attractive to me. Or rather, I should clarify, I am not interested in adopting it in its entirety or as my sole philosophy of education.

    However, there are elements which do appeal to me. Especially the emphasis on encouraging a child’s exploration, feeding him the meat he craves when he craves it, and letting him work at a pace that does not frustrate him either because it is too slow or too fast.

    But I think there has to be a healthy tension between content and process. You can’t be so focused on what you want the child to learn that you ignore the child. Neither is it good to be so focused on the child that you neglect to teach him what he needs to know. The trick is obviously to find the proper balance.

    I suspect the educational system, following what the experts thought Holt was suggesting, (though he clearly says in the book that he is not advocating a particular doctrine or ideology), has run into problems is primarily because secularist materialism has rejected any notion of absolute truth, eternal verities, or the importance of the Western tradition and has thrown out our intellectual, artistic and spiritual heritage.

    I don’t know much about Holt or his theories or on the history of educational reform, thus I can’t and won’t argue about how much personal responsibility Holt had for what was done following his work. All I can say for certain is that there is nothing in this particular book which necessarily leads to “feel good” education.

    I do see one problem in the final passage I quote. That is his statement about not knowing “what knowledge to cram”. I think I do have some very clear ideas about what knowledge it is important to impart to children.

    However, I do agree that “cramming” is counterproductive. It seems to me he is correct, that the teacher’s role is ideally to make a child aware of the gaps and lead him to desire to fill them in.

    I like the metaphor (can’t recall where I saw it) of spreading a feast before the child. The teacher chooses the dishes, but the child decides which foods to eat when and how much of each. It is a hard task to cultivate a child’s tastes so he doesn’t eat only bread and chicken, it requires patience and perseverance. But it can be done.


    Thanks for the hint. I’ll definitely check her out. I’m always on the prowl for good homeschooling blogs.

    One of my current favorites is Melissa Wiley (see Here in the Bonny Glen and The Lilting House in my blogroll). She has adopted some elements of unschooling leavened by a generous helping of Charlotte Mason. She seems to achieve a good balance between letting her children’s interests lead them down “rabbit trails” and gently guiding them into new avenues of exploration.

  • Melissa W and I were on the same Catholic Unschooling mailing list for a while.  One of her researchers, also a Melissa, teaches kindergarten CCD with me; small world, huh?

  • I agree with Lily’s idea to “take the meat…and leave the bones.”  Holt’s ideas can really be energizing when you’re encountering homeschool burnout.  Some folks take those ‘unschooling’ ideas to the extreme in the form of ‘permissive parenting.’

  • Yes, Melissa’s series of posts on “Tidal Homeschooling” describes the ebb and flow that many of us go through. Some times are more structured and some times the children lead the way.  It was nice for me to read at a time when I felt very much alone in my “back and forth” motion between more and less structure.

    And Melanie…it’s great you’re researching all this stuff now while your baby is so young.  It will save you some time once she’s of school age. wink

  • ‘Tidal homeschooling’ could explain my 9 year journey as well. To some it may seem indecisive to switch programs and levels of structure year to year, but it’s just my way of listening to the children while keeping their future in mind. I used a fair amount of workbooks this year to cover needed skills, yet we read from 4REAL Charlotte Mason reading list, doing the narratives afterward.
    This is the result:  yesterday my 9 year old daughter came to me with shining eyes after two hours in the backyard documenting signs of spring in her nature notebook, and breathlessly told me she’s working on a book of animal stories like Beatrix Potter. She is compiling bits of learning from all over the curriculm; art, literature, writing, nature study, and cinema (we’ve just seen “Miss Potter”).This lets me know that my curriculum is spot on!
    I think the Holy Spirit works in this if you invite Him. Don’t be afraid to trust your instincts, and ask for advice. Attend conferences, and read the type of books you’re reading. I have a preschool daughter with Down Syndrome, whose learning style is quite unique, and I recently read “When Slow is Fast Enough” to understand how to educate her, my third child. We’re always learning, and the blogs you mentioned are a great help. Make sure you sign up for the 4REAL Learning Forum to share your ideas.