Hijacking your Kids’ Education… But No Pressure

I came across this excellent TEDx talk.  It’s about a mom who recommends “hijacking” your kids’ education.  To get it out of the way early, this does NOT mean homeschooling.  Or interfering with the curriculum and practices of the school.  What it means is, leave the school to do what they do and then take charge of their learning after school.  I’m embedding it here.

I find this interesting because I’ve been hijacking my kids’ learning in one way or another since they started school.  At first in Jordan, I found that based on decades-long approaches to education (including early education), I needed to work with them on creativity and individualism.  At home we would do arts and crafts projects every week in which there were no lines, no right answers, no required colors… Basically, I was giving them not just permission but the requirement to be creative.  If they asked a question about what color they should use or should a feather go here, I always told them that I was certain they’d make the best choice.  At school, bunnies were brown and snow men’s coats had to be put on properly (so yes ButterBean’s cape was “fixed” by the art teacher!).  At home, bunnies were just as likely to be rainbow polka-dot and snow would have capes, or bikinis, or sandals, or swim trunks.

The thing is, what this mom suggests is hard to do.  Helping your child find their “passion,” a new-age catch word that college applications are rife with and admissions reps expect to see, is hard work.  And it strikes me as kind of odd that we’re placing so much focus on it anyway.  When I was in college, it was a time of exploration.  Because at home your mom and dad would NOT have been expected to expose you to every possible interest.  Listening to this mom’s exhaustive list of steps they took to find the passion was, well, exhausting.  So, I think I’ll probably look toward taking only some of what she suggests.  The watching closely to see where they are showing interests is a definite possibility.  Also finding opportunities for them to explore those areas is a possibility.  But me personally trying to determine every possible area of interest and then explore it… not likely to happen.

But I do like this idea of finding the areas of weakness and owning our role in supplementing them.  Between giving our kids time to play and enjoy themselves and continuing their learning, we will need to find a balance.  Because I do want my kids to be able to write a coherent essay with an outline.  And I do want them to spend some time seeing what happens when food is dropped and ants come and carry it off, and I do want them to try out an instrument.  But I also want to know that I’m not going it alone.  It’s interesting to see where this journey will lead us…

Happy Hijacking


A Season of Learning Through Fun

So, in cleaning out and getting rid of things that are way too young for the Beans these days, I came across a small box of cards. They’re rather magical cards, I think.  Not magical in the beanstalk and golden hen way.  Rather, they’re like Mommy magic.  I’m sure we got them for a birthday or other gift-giving opp somewhere along the way.  I have no idea who gave them to us and wish I did because they deserve a big mommy thanks.  If I could find them, I’d buy them in bulk as gifts because they’re awesome.

The cards are little science/art projects that you can do.  They’re fun, the ingredients are reading available, and the kids love them.  You can see them here (50 Science Things to make and do).  They include things like making a movie (you know like when we were kids) by drawing small pictures on a notebook of paper and flicking them really fast), mixing vinegar and oil together to understand the properties of things that don’t actually combine (and making a nice salad dressing), making an acrobat out of card stock and modeling clay to demonstrate gravity (the base weighs more than the body), making a spider that goes up and down his web (friction).  My favorite so far was the one we did yesterday… using marshmallows and uncooked spaghetti, we learned about shapes and which ones are stronger.  The best moment?  When, just after an explanation of one of the concepts JujuBean says, “Wow, Mom, you’re really smart.”  Thanks Usbourne… you’ve fooled my kids into thinking mommy’s got science brain.

In honor of short exam days, we’re doing a science project a day… and it has been fun!  I encourage you to grab your own set of science cards and have a ball with your kids.  The activities don’t take alot of time and make learning new ideas fun.  And teachers, check out these cards… you’ll learn something new that you can pass along!

Happy Einsteins!