Saturday, March 16, 2013

Tidal Learning

When I was researching unschooling, I discovered a mother who coined her own label, tidal learning, to describe what she does. She had noticed a certain ebb and flow in her homeschooling activities. Sometimes there was a lot of formal instruction and a set schedule, while other times, such as when a baby was born, life more resembled unschooling. I think that we all have high and low periods of activity. For example, in her book Simple Abundance, Sarah Ban Breathnach talks about the necessity of "filling the well" in order to stoke the creative fires. There are periods of seeming dormancy, followed by spurts of intense creativity. Without the low tide, there is no high tide.

We have been sick at my house all week. When we're sick we need to rest. It's such a simple thing, but I think there is this fear of falling behind. We must consider that sometimes burning the candle at both ends is exactly what leads to injury or illness. If we don't hear the message to slow down, sometimes God will allow us to be in a situation that requires an abrupt stop. This happened to me years ago, when I was really tired and needed a break but did not take one. I got into a car accident and broke my knee cap. I wrote a lot of good poetry following that period.

Lately Beezy has been having an explosion into writing. She is really interested right now in learning to send text messages on the cell phone. Real life applications of writing are best for improving the skill. The more we read and write, the better readers and writers we become. I saw a love letter she wrote to our dog in the bathroom today, next to Daisy's bed. The desire to write is natural in a child who sees others writing and wishes to be able to communicate in this way. Beezy wants to spell words correctly, and she gets disappointed when she doesn't. I encourage her to just write as best she can. If she asks for help spelling a word, I give it to her; otherwise, I allow the inventive spelling that is natural to children who write words as they sound to them. When I was a Montessori teacher, a child wrote a story, and the last thing he wrote was, "C N". I puzzled over this, working it out in my mind, then smiled when it became obvious--"The End".

Learning happens all the time, even during sick days. Even when it looks like you are doing nothing. The seeds have been planted, but it takes time for the flowers to appear. And before the flowers come stems and leaves. After the bloom, flowers fade and fall off. Next year the process happens all over again. Look to the seasons, to the processes of Mother Nature, to understand that it is no different with us. When the moon calls, the tide rises. And when the time comes, the waters subside. Simple as that. Keep it simple.

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