Friday, October 16, 2009

One thing at a time...slow schooling

I think I finally have Ryan's learning style figured out. When learning something new, he likes to totally immerse himself in it. To do it for hours and hours on end until he feels like he has mastered it. That is why homeschooling works for him and school didn't.

One of the complaints Ryan had about school was that he would get engrossed in one subject only to be pulled away from it when it was time to move onto the next subject. Everything felt undone and his learning felt scattered, piecemeal. Homeschooling allows him to focus on whatever his current interest is for as long as he would like. This past summer, his interest was reading and he read every Matthew Reilly book written, one after the other. He seemed to always have his head in a book- on car trips, in bed or at the dinner table.

This fall I haven't been able to get Ryan to pick up a book, His interest has shifted to rock climbing and that is the only thing he wants to do now. To challenge his mind and body as he scales walls and climbs boulders. We have been to the gym to climb three times already this week and will go again tomorrow. He is obsessed. I am impressed with his determination and motivation to learn this sport.

This makes me think differently about my approach to educating Ryan. In the past, we have operated more like a school by encouraging him to tackle many different subjects at one time while allowing him freedom in how he learns his different subjects. With this new awareness of how Ryan may learn best though, I think we should use more of a block schedule which would let Ryan focus intensively for weeks at a time on the one thing that most interests him. Granted, a few other subjects such as math and science would be done each day, but the bulk of the time would be devoted to one thing.

Does that mean if Ryan wants to do rock climbing the rest of the year, then that is how he will spend the remainder of his school year? Nope, I figure after about 3 months, his interest will fall back to a normal level and he will get engrossed in yet another new thing. Kinda like how he progressed from reading to rock climbing. In the meantime, I enjoy seeing the drive and desire on his face as he tries to boulder or climb harder and harder routes. To know that this same perseverance will take him wherever he wants to go in life.

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