things we can’t get from homeschooling

  1. Group projects- kids working together to achieve something better together than they can alone
  2. Culture, in particular developing a culture that actually promotes the making of mistakes and emphasises collaboration
  3. Learning from other children, especially those at a similar zone of proximal development.
Olympics as organised by an 8 year old… he even made the tickets at home.

I do not think we can necessarily get these from most schools either, not classrooms I’ve been in… and possibly I could find a way to achieve these in homeschool land as easily as finding a teacher in a school who is making these things happen….

Watching a “movie” being preformed and organised by a group of children who only met each other that morning…

I’ve been reading a book called Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler and although it’s focus is on mathematics I think lots of it is just true… (although I could just be suffering conformation bias with a bit of research chucked in). Kids should be given work/problems together as a group that are hard enough that it means they will make mistakes, even better problems without a right answer. There is more to learn by working with others, especially when the kids are at the edge of their skills and understanding- in the zone of proximal development.

All the round things (small ones inside big ones) rolling, which required lots of children to get them up the hill and many more to stop them going into the creek.

School examples are often a task set by the teacher and the kids work together to achieve the task; putting on a play, Enviro school groups (which is different as it tends to be opt in). The goal is often academic at schools with the focus on content rather than the kids working together.

One of the things I love about the Everyone Out holiday programme I work at is that every day there are different children aged from 5 to 12. Sometimes the kids come with a friend, some friends see each other only at the holiday programme, there may be someone they know from their class or school or historically from a preschool but this mix of having known and unknown people of different ages forces the children to adapt their play. They have to talk more, be more inclusive just to get their dream fulfilled. I hear them negotiate, I hear them changing the way they talk to the suit the age of their helper, or changing their idea due to someone else’s brilliant idea. I hear them help each other. It astounds me listening to them. Most of them have such excellent skills that most adults seem to find challenging. Arguments don’t seem to happen much and if they do they blow over. Sometimes, rarely, I have to remind the older kids to use their powers for good. There must be some kind of critical mass – numbers of kids, ages of kids? to get this to work. This holiday programme we had to reduce the number of children from 30 to 20 due to Covid regulations and the age of kids wasn’t as wide. This changed the dynamic as there was just not as much going on for others to join into, there were more arguments as they tried to get the reduced number of possible participants involved in their idea.

the ghost at the haunted tree train ride

So far the homeschool groups we go to don’t work like this as the kids mostly know each other so they make assumptions, they have already worked out who will be interested and they adapt what they do (do what works) rather than negotiate the hard path of working with the reluctant. Schools of course circumvent this of course by allocating the task so you all end up having to work on things you are not so interested in so you all have less investment in what happens…

Kids choosing to work together on some joint vision of their own choosing, even if it’s weird, is such a beautiful thing to watch. I am so pleased and grateful to Everyone Out for providing this so important chance to learn for my child, she gets to do challenging work with others, gets to stuff up and it be ok and she learns so much on how to work with others by living it and watching other people’s successes and failures. Awesome.

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