What do we do on Monday when our weeks become overly busy or we face unexpected difficulties?
Some weeks, everything flows smoothly. Other weeks, things are more challenging.
Life doesn’t always go smoothly. This, in itself, is a good homeschool lesson. Having the ability to cope, to be flexible, to change directions, to adjust, to laugh at life’s lemons and to smile at simple joys – these are skills that make life and homeschool easier.
Yet, we still have to Do Something on Monday when facing a busy week. What do we do when we haven’t had time to think of activities or lesson plans?
What Do I Do Monday? is a book by John Holt, who has provided momentous ideas on education and learning. Mr. Holt was a homeschool pioneer, whose thoughts, beliefs, and writings on homeschooling and unschooling were ahead of his times.
Prior to writing numerous books on how children learn (and how they fail), John was a school teacher. But as a teacher, his focus was primarily on observing learning processes in children, rather than forcing a curriculum on them. As a result, his views often conflicted with those of school administrators.
So John turned his attention to helping parents and teachers. He shared first-hand experiences, insight, and details on children actively engaged in learning. He spent years with students and with families, closely observing how children learned best, then documenting and sharing his findings.
Some of John’s books include How Children Fail, How Children Learn, the previously mentioned What Do I Do Monday?, Freedom and Beyond, and others. His books can be found in libraries or online, and are especially inspirational to homeschooling and unschooling families.
Here are some learning ideas and quotes, courtesy of John Holt:
* “I believe that we learn best when we, not others, are deciding what we are going to try to learn, and when, and how, and for what reasons or purposes.” – John Holt
* Ask your children: “What would YOU like to do Monday?” If they can’t think of anything, try a 10-minute brainstorming session on what could be interesting, new, different, fun, etc. Then allow them to decide what they'd like to learn, and when and how, and give them the freedom to pursue those ideas this week.
* Make lists of favorite things during the day, the weeks, and in the months to come. Keep a running list in a notebook or journal. Encourage everyone in the family to keep his or her own list. Then review your lists for learning ideas each week.
* Examples: Here are some examples of "favorite things" from John Holt.
1. Places you like. These can be big places, or they can be little places, and you can like them for different reasons. Put them on your list, as many as you can think of, then learn more about those places.
2. People you’d like to know. Jot down the names of people who interest you, then learn more about them. They can be people from the past, people in the news today, people in your community, or even ancestors in your family.
3. Books you’d like to read. One favorite book can lead to another. Keep a list of books you’d like to read online or check out from the library. Write down favorite authors, too, and read other books they’ve written.
4. Paintings, sculptures, or other artwork. Keep a running list of art projects or techniques you want to try. Learn about different art movements or styles, such as Cubism, Pointillism, Futurism, Pop Art, etc., and try your hand at them.
5. Things you like to do. These can be trivial (simple) or not so trivial (more complex). Ideas could include cutting-and-pasting paper shapes, making castles from boxes, building structures with construction kits, writing skits or plays to perform, learning to play an instrument, making doll clothes, building a bookshelf, creating a computer program, etc.
In just these 5 ideas listed above, there could be weeks of learning ideas, hands-on activities, and new knowledge and skills gained through them.
Tip: An “Idea Jar” is an alternative, or a complement, to list-making. Have kids jot ideas on paper, then cut them apart, fold them up, and drop them into the Idea Jar. Each Monday, have them draw a few ideas from the jar, and there’s your learning ideas for the week!
Continue adding to the jar or to your lists as often as possible. Then you'll always have learning ideas at your fingertips each Monday!