Self-Directed Learning in December

We're memorizing " 'Twas the Night Before Christmas" together.  Actually A5 is memorizing it for the first time; the rest of us know it and are just reviewing.

We also borrowed a book of Christmas poetry from the library.  In it is a copy of " 'Twas the Night Before Christmas."  A5 found it and has spent literally days poring over it.  Occasionally she's asked, "Mom what does h-u-r-r-i-c-a-n-e spell?" or another related question.  I've answered and gone about my busy-ness without too much thought other than to be happy that my girl seems to like poetry.

Yesterday H3 asked me to read the "Cwismas poem" to her.  I sat down to oblige, and A5 saw what we were doing.  She sighed a big sigh and said, "Good luck!  That poem takes days to read.  I just finished."

"Did you read the whole poem?"  I asked incredulously.

"Yes," she answered matter-of-factly.

"Wow!  What an accomplishment!" I gushed.

She smiled, sniffled, and turned back to playing with her farm set.

How happy I am that my girl is inspired to read on her own!

S10 and J8 are planning to run a 20 acre farm together when they grow up.  Their husbands will work together too--doing the grunt work.  They're planning to buy beachfront acreage in Hawaii so they can go surfing when they're not doing chores.  It's going to be quite the farm.

They're making livestock lists, drawing architectural layouts of the outbuildings, and designing the general layout of the farm.

Yesterday J8 came to me to ask, "May I go to the library website to reserve some books on farming?"


After a while I heard, "Mom, what is organic farming?"

"It's what you want to do--go ahead and reserve books on organic farming, " I called back.

"Okay.  Thanks!"

After another while I realized she was missing her opportunity for sunshine and fresh air because she'd been on the computer for so long, so I called to her, "Time's up.   You need to get outside right away or the afternoon will be gone."

"Aww, Mom!  I was reserving books about horses.  Arabian horses are gentle and they're good with children, but I can't find books about work horses."

Suddenly a lightbulb flashed on in my mind, "Hey!  I have a farming book for you!  Right behind you on at the bottom of the tallest bookshelf is a book called The Encyclopedia of Country Living.  You'll love that book."

And love it she does.  It was a bit overwhelming, so she asked me to look at it with her.  After 5 minutes of shared browsing time, she was ready to take off and get lost in a world of future farming.

She took the book to bed with her last night.

While I made chicken noodle soup and homemade bread for dinner last night I began to think of ways to harness this enthusiasm into schoolwork.  Why not do a unit study on farms?  Why not work out math problems about expenses and profit?  Why not talk to farmers at the Friday Night farmer's market?  Why not . . .


I realized that they're totally doing research and work on their own.  There's no need for me to step in as leader.  All they need me to be is a facilitator--showing them resources and then letting them fly.  Which is what I did when I remembered the book on the shelf and what I will do when I pick up their library books for them this afternoon.

I will not create lesson plans.  I will ask questions and listen to the answers.  I will try to say yes when I am asked for supplies to create self-directed projects.  I will stay out of the way until I am needed and then I will offer only the help that allows them to work independently again.

I will get no nice neat notebook, no orderly report to file away in the homeschool record box.  That is frustrating to me.  But what they are doing is real learning . . . and there's no box that can hold it!


  1. I just love it when the kids take off and decide to learn on their own. Great job mom for not jumping in and leading the way. I know I do that so often then they lose their interest in the subject.


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