A lesson from my six-year-old Homeschooler

What I learnt from my 6-year old this week.

One of the most rewarding parts of homeschooling, is the freedom we have, to explore our children’s interests, instead of sticking to a set curriculum.  Sure, there are certain milestones we want them to reach, like reading, writing, being sufficient in basic math, etc.  There is however, no rush.  Those things will all come at a time when they’re ready.  In the meantime, we’re letting their interests lead and shape our curriculum.

Nathan, our 6-year-old is very interested in learning about frogs at the moment, tadpoles to be exact. (He pronounces it “tadpools” which always makes me giggle a little on the inside.)  So, being a homeschool mom, I jumped on the idea and my first thought was to start at the beginning.

First, we learnt about Amphibians and we completed a project we started years ago.  Then we learnt about the lifecycle of the frog.

Although we learnt valuable information and it instilled what my oldest already knew about frogs, it was all completely unnecessary.

He had very interesting, burning questions about frogs and none of them were answered in any of our lesson plans or cute YouTube videos.

Instead of burying him in more information, I quieted down and asked what HE wanted to know.

It blew, my mind.

His first question was what tadpoles ate.  “Well”, I said. “I have no idea.”  We’ll have to check on Google to find out.  So, we did.  Actually no, he did.  He asked me how to spell the word “tadpoles” and then sat at the table where I was working, going through tens of search results before turning to me with the answer.  He did call in some reinforcements from his big brother to assist with some of the bigger English words.  He’s a sufficient reader in Afrikaans, but we’ve only recently started with English reading.

Photo credit: www.flickriver.com

A day or so passed before his next question. “Are the tadpoles of poisonous frogs also poisonous?”

What?!  Who thinks about these questions and why don’t I know the answer?  Simple.  I was stuck behind books at school, while life was happening outside the door.

Again, we turned to “Professor Google”.  This search had all three of the kiddos intrigued, so off they went on YouTube Kids to watch videos about poisonous frogs and their tadpoles.

Turns out, the eggs of a poisonous frog are in fact very poisonous.  As they develop into tadpoles they become less and less poisonous as they grow, thus being at their least poisonous stage when going through the final metamorphosis of turning into a frog.  Thereafter the frog starts producing its own poison.

Well, now I know!  And so do you.

I never would’ve planned a lesson that would include this information, regardless of how extensive I might’ve thought it was.

This was another opportunity for me to be reminded that we don’t need to fill their world with information.  We are simply there to help develop their already curious minds.   

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