The other day my family was at a friends house for dinner. My friends 13 year old daughter, in an effort to be polite asked my 12 year old son what he had been doing lately for school. My son (after swallowing his food and looking a bit surprised at being addressed) answered “Well, I work on Khan Academy every day (an awesome free math program), practice my Danish, write in my blog, use Kode Academy (a free computer coding program that my son thinks is awesome as well), work on family history. . .and um. . .well I practice violin everyday but that isn’t school because I really just do it for fun (what a great answer ) and yeah I also am learning about Canadian History and making a website for Kids Can Change The World. . (a local humanitarian club for kids).”
When I heard his response a bubble of pride formed and burst from my mouth with an impressed ”Wow, that sure sounds like I am teaching you a lot at home!” (Normally one of my kids will respond to that question with a “nothing we just play all day” so I was quite pleased with my sons response) My son looked at me and gave me a ‘look’ and stated “Mom, you aren’t doing anything, I am learning it all myself!” Everyone laughed, including me, and I had to admit that it was true, my son really was ‘learning it all’ himself.
As a mother who is directly involved with the education of her children, I am constantly amazed at how much my kids ‘learn themselves’ when the right environment is provided for them. In the case of my son, I listened to a talk last year that encouraged parents to involve kids and youth in doing their family history. Elder Bednar, the speaker, directed the parents to a website geared towards youth and suggested that parents let their kids and youth explore the site themselves with as little ‘help’ from parents as possible. I have taken this to heart, and have let my 10 year old and 12 year old spend hours on the family website page. My 10 year old loses interest quickly, but my son is totally enthralled. He has learned more in the last few months about family history, than I have in the 13 years I have tried to pick at it (with seven kids my pickings have been very slim indeed). I am amazed and delighted. Kids really do have an amazing ability to learn on their own.
This tendency of kids is well illustrated in an experiment that education scientist Sugata Mitra tried in places where access to live teachers are limited. I was just amazed at this approach and I am sure you will be too.