Happy Home Ed: Learning all the time


“I do not teach anyone. I only provide the environment in which they can learn.” Albert Einstein

Since we started home ed, I think about the above quote often. I thought about it last weekend when I walked home from the park with Joe (David and Harry had gone on ahead to get on with lunch). As we left the park, Joe asked about the electrical cables and pipes running along the road, and the steps down to the river where, for the last few months, a huge water tank has been installed. He pointed out different car colours and asked, “How many cars are black?”

He’d brought two sticks from the park (he’s mad about sticks) and, as he walked he tapped them together and kept stopping to drum with them on the floor. He rubbed them together and asked me how to make fire then he held them in an A shape and said, “How do you make a tent with sticks like this, Mama?”

He pointed out the pipes running down the side of a local factory and asked what they were and where they went. As we looked at the drain, he spotted a tiny spider dropping on a thread and asked where it was going and how it was doing that. It went up, it went down.

Almost home, he saw two big industrial bins and recognised our local council’s logo, asking me where he’d seen it before (fire station visit) and what it meant. He asked why there was some rubbish on the floor next to the bin and why there were two bins, different colours. As we walked on – me saying, “We’ll have missed lunch and dinner at this rate!” he said, “I thought you were going to stay in the bin, Mama. Cos you’re rubbish!” When I laughed, it echoed between the buildings and Joe said, “Why can I hear your voice?”

This was all in a half hour walk back from the park (the park is actually five minutes away, but it takes half an hour to walk back with Joe).

I recently read Learning All the Time by John Holt and I love this quote:

Children learn from anything and everything they see. They learn wherever they are, not just in special learning places. They learn much more from things, natural or made, that are real and significant in the world in their wn right and not just made in order to help children learn; in other words, they are more interested in the objects and tools we use in our regular lives than in almost any special learning materials made for them. We can best help children learn, not by deciding what we think they should learn and thinking of ingenious ways to teach it to them, but by making the world, as far as we can, accessible to them, paying serious attention to what they do, answering their questions – if they have any – and helping them explore the things they are most interested in. In short, what we need to know to help children learn is not obscure, technical or complicated, and the materials we can use to help them lie ready to hand all around us.

And that is why we’re loving home ed.

[Have you seen my home ed blog, Happy Home Ed? I plan to do most of my home ed posting there, so would love it if you’d follow me there. I will still post here every now and then, I just didn’t want to bore anyone who’s not interested.]


8 thoughts on “Happy Home Ed: Learning all the time

  1. I love the quote too – it sums up just how children learn so easily if their learning isn’t interfered with by testing, targets and ego-driven politics! 😉 So glad you’re loving your Home Ed. We did too! x

    1. Thanks, Ross. Yes, this is why it baffles me when people ask (as they continue to do) how children learn without school. They’re learning ALL THE TIME!

  2. We don’t tend to learn with books..we use the environment and what is all around us. My son has come on in leaps and bounds since leaving school. Is it wrong of me not to sit day every day and surround him with workbooks or is it right of me to let him enjoy what is around him?

    1. Same here. I bought some work books when we were flexischooling, but we haven’t looked at them. One of the earliest things that convinced me to try home ed was Harry at school learning about the beach from a book – I couldn’t stop thinking how actually *being* at the beach would be better. (Better for me too 🙂 )

  3. This is lovely. My only fear would be not having answers to all the questions – but then of course, I guess I could consult the internet on arrival at home. And I used to sometimes have to admit to not knowing all the answers. But, we did find out, later. In the olden days, we would have gone to our gigantic set of encylopaedias, which took up one whole bookcase. Internet is more fun because it’s more up-to-date, although it was quite exciting consulting encyclopaedias before t’internet. Wonderful quote from John Holt but don’t forget, it’s not just children who are learning all the time, we all are. (Until we, y’know, expire…) 🙂 x

    1. Well, exactly, which is why I don’t fear not having the answers to the questions – we can learn them together. Plus it’s good for children to know that adults don’t know everything, aren’t afraid to admit it, and can go and find out.

  4. Dammit, will you STOP planting these insidious revolutionary thoughts in my brain. We just changed schools. Was **this** close to just not doing school at all.
    And it was entirely down to you…
    *goes to follow Happy Home Ed*

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