Wednesday, February 21, 2007

How They Learn

One of the concerns people always voice about unschooling is how kids will learn if they don't have someone hovering over them making sure they do so. I thought I'd write about just one (of the many, many, many) things I see my kids doing that illustrates how they learn. My daughter loves music and the violin is her main instrument, but she often sits down at the piano to pick things out or to play around. She's never had formal piano lessons, but the other day a friend taught her how to play part of a song that takes both hands. After her friend left, she sat down and tried to remember it. I noticed that she kept playing one part over and over, pausing each time. When I came into the living room, I saw that she was using her little magnadoodle pad to write down the note names (you can see my handy dandy note stickers on all the keys - anathema to most "real" piano teachers I'm sure, but my kids asked for them and use them frequently.) After that, she played it over and over until she had it down.

This morning, she noticed that the song on her Barbie toy cell phone is one by Beethoven that she has on a LeapPad game. She sat down at the piano to sound it out, and was still engaged in that when it was time to leave for Karate. Now that we're home, she's at it again and I can hear the stanzas of the Ode to Joy emerging from her fingertips.

When a child wants to learn something (or an adult for that matter), the most useful thing we can do is to support and nurture that desire. Provide the materials and encouragement, step back and watch the magic happen.


Scott Hughes said...

I'd ask, how can a child learn with someone hovering over them. The schools I went to as a kid hindered my learning. Unschooling lets children learn.

Karen said...

I just came across your blog by following the unschooler ring, which I just joined myself. I really appreciate your take on learning and it's nice to see someone with children older than my own succeeding.