Friday, 30 August 2013

Playing Enough? - 20 Aug 2013

Brandon was really looking forward to the recent school holiday so he could draw as much as he wanted to. He drew for hours every day. No interruption from class or school.  I bought him a set of Sharpie pens and he started to use colours, next watercolour and so on. He started drawing ships since early this year, but only have time in between school to do so. I also tried to distract him to draw other things, but he's too fascinated with different types of ships.

I used to be concerned whether my boys are spending their time productively during the school holidays. I kinda like to plan something so they will learn and not be idle or - we often hear this - 'bored'. But, over the years, I observe how some local homeschooled kids excel under self-directed learning rather than structured-based learning. So when Brandon shows an interest in ships, we let him lead the learning, whether he wanna do arts, music, history or science. We didn't send him to any class to hone his skills at this point but allow him to go through a journey of discovering things, not to find an answer. He can spend a short time or even longer, depending on his interest and curiosity.

My two older boys have been in school for many more years than Brandon. They started out with curiosity and imagination too, but I saw these qualities growing dim as they made progress in school. Also we, as parents, did not nurture their interests when they showed them in those early years. We put more emphasis on structured-based learning and less on free play. So, it's more pain to help them see there's learning outside the classroom!!

So when I finally took notice of XianWei's doodling, I was hopeful. It's too early to see where it will lead to but we're more conscious now to nurture and ignite his interests and help him to pursue them. He loved doodling since young, and we quickly signed him up to an arts class. It didn't go very far after that...

I stumbled upon stacks of doodling from XianWei as well as many others eg, origami, amateurish inventions... how could I be so blind before? I missed out many boats along the way, but that's how we learn I guess. We don't believe that our children are naturally born learners. When learning is interest-driven, the child can be self-taught and seek out the many 'teachers' out there. I read this somewhere...that the children will not become proxies for their parents, who think that what they want is what's best for their children.

Different expressions created from fountain ink (caution: this would not be clean).

This makes me more observant everyday to look for signs of their interests. I have to take a good look at the environment at home or in our lifestyle to see if it's conducive too. I believe that structured play has its place in learning too, there are times we initiate a certain activity based on their interests, and then, we wait. I think it will generate more discipline in both parents and children. Parents need to wait until something shows up, in order to do this, we have to accept our children and give them the freedom to learn. The waiting part is the hardest. And the child also needs a lot of discipline to be self-motivated to pursue their interests.

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