There’s a dead bug on the sidewalk. The vacuum cleaner suddenly stops working. The sky looks a little weird today. There’s something growing in the fish tank. The TV anchor says something that doesn’t make sense.
And so it begins. How it ends is anybody’s guess.
When was the last time your kids were drawn in by something they saw? Something they heard? Or something that happened? Whatever it was, do you remember what they did? How they sounded? What they looked like? Pretty excited, were they? Remember how breathless they were, bursting with details? Remember how they talked about it later on, too?
Of course you remember. They do too. That’s the neat thing about accidental learning. It isn’t planned, but grabs their attention. The more engaging, the more it lasts. Chances are, moments like that grab hold onto your kids for a long time.
A friend recently told the story of her kids describing roadkill they’d discovered on the street. Her kids talked about it endlessly at the dinner table — in the most gruesome yet fascinating detail. Another mom told how a child discovered a flaw in some tool he’d been using, and spent the following days and weeks trying to improve it.
Kids get excited about different things. Sometimes we don’t know what those things are going to be. It’s fun to watch and interesting to keep track of.
Our reactions are important to how far the children will take the new learning, too. Blurt out one of those, “I’m busy right now…tell me later” and you’ve squashed all the fun. But give them an, “I wonder if…………….” and you’ll help keep those cognitive engines running a whole lot longer.
Kids know when you approve and when you don’t. Avoiding the can’ts, don’ts (and all of that stuff we say about dirt and germs!) and we show approval of their investigations and support their exploration and activities.
Accidental learning is often the best kind. It’s unexpected and unpredictable. Kids get to decide where to go with it, and it takes them in many different directions. They like it, because they picked it. And when it has run its course, it ends, just as suddenly as it all began — an incredible cycle, really.
Seize every opportunity to support your learners if they accidentally stumble across something that excites them. As long as you remember they’re doing the learning, you can add your enthusiasm and connect them to extra resources, and help turn those accidents into something extraordinary indeed.
To your success,
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Dr. Marie-Claire Moreau is a college professor who traded in her tenure to become a homeschool mom 20+ years ago. A homeschooling pioneer and the founder of many groups and organizations, she works to advance home education, and is an outspoken supporter of education reform coast to coast. Her book, Suddenly Homeschooling: A Quick Start Guide to Legally Homeschool in Two Weeks, is industry-acclaimed as it illustrates how homeschooling can rescue children and families from the public school system, and how anyone can begin homeschooling within a limited time-frame, with no teaching background whatsoever. A writer, a homeschool leader, and a women’s life coach, Marie-Claire mentors in a variety of areas that impact health, education and lifestyle. A conference speaker, she has appeared at FPEA, H.E.R.I., Home Education Council of America, The Luminous Mind, Vintage Homeschool Moms, iHomeschool Network, and many other events. Her articles have appeared in and on Holistic Parenting, CONNECT,Homefires, Homemaking Cottage, Kiwi, Circle of Moms, and hundreds of sites and blogs nationwide. Marie-Claire can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.