When I first started homeschooling, I was constantly thinking about all the things:
- Hours spent homeschooling daily
- Hours spent on each subject weekly
- Books read
I could go on and on and on.
Sometimes, the kids would get off track. They would start talking about something else, something I had not pre-planned in my mind. I would answer their questions and then redirect the conversation.
No sooner were we back on course than some other distraction would intervene.
A random thought.
I’d try to be patient, but I would also have my eyes on the clock, running through all of my must-dos in my mind. The more off track we became, or the longer we were off course, the more frustrated I became.
I fought it.
I fought hard.
And it didn’t help at all.
Here’s the thing that I’ve come to realize: We don’t give our kids enough credit.
We don’t trust them.
Kids are born to learn. They are little scientists. They are naturally curious and passionate and driven.
We need to get out of their way because learning happens all the time when we just relax and let it.
I’ve learned to respect those rabbit holes.
Respect Those Rabbit Holes: Surrender to Delight-Driven Learning
In recent months, I’ve been much better at respecting those rabbit holes and surrendering to delight-driven learning. This is easier to do when all the other things are going smoothly. As soon as the to-do list and stress from other life things start to mount, I can feel myself rejecting the rabbit holes.
But on a good day, I respect them.
And as I grow as a homeschooler, those days are becoming more frequent.
And days like these are easier and less stressful and more fun.
Today, I’m going to share how I respected those rabbit holes one recent morning and then I’d love to hear about rabbit holes in your world.
A morning of respecting those rabbit holes:
I used to wake up and want to tackle the “harder” subjects right away, just so I can cross them off of our list. I felt like if I could get math accomplished when the kids were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, it would be a morning win.
And then, somewhere along the way, I realized that it’s a whole lot easier to start off with what I’m good at. And I’m good at reading.
So I start each morning with a strong cup of coffee and good books. Sometimes I plan them ahead of time. If we have been light on science or geography, or whatever I will try to pick great books that touch on those subjects. Other days, I just grab some books that I love to read aloud.
Lately, on Instagram, I’ve referred to this as Coffee and Books. I’ll share a couple of examples.
A photo posted by MyLittlePoppies (@my_little_poppies) on
And then there was the rabbit hole day:
The rabbit holes…
You can see from the image above that I started off our Coffee and Books with three picture books and an atlas. I called it an around-the-world morning. As we read each story, we frequently paused to refer to the atlas.
We started off reading My Granny Went to Market by Stella Blackstone, a rhyming book that follows granny as she flies around the world on her magic carpet collecting goodies from different countries. At one point in the story, Granny collects boomerangs. Last week, we studied ancient Australia with History Unboxed and we made our own boomerangs. The kids were excited to see boomerangs mentioned in the text and asked if we could look on the internet to see photos of ancient boomerangs.
And so we did.
Once we had our fill of boomerangs, we continued with the story. Granny collected nesting dolls and while my older two knew what they were, my youngest did not. With one quick internet search, we were able to show him gorgeous nesting doll images.
Next, we read We’re Roaming in the Rainforest by Laurie Krebs. In this colorful rhyming book, three children journey through the Amazonian Rainforest and meet interesting creatures and people. Each discovery is paired with an adjective, making for a wonderful and educational read aloud. The kids had many questions during this read aloud. We took several breaks to answer them and to dive down those fantastic rabbit holes including:
- We watched YouTube videos on pink river dolphins, dolphin echolocation, and bat echolocation.
- We paused to research the terms for animal babies because my youngest observed that dolphin babies are called calves, just like elephant and cow babies.
- We watched a time-lapse video of a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly.
- We watched a video on sloths.
- When we got to the page with the poison dart frogs, we took a moment to read a National Geographic book that my youngest is obsessed with because the book talked about the terribilus frog.
- We watched a video on the weapons made by people native to the area, including poison darts (made with the poison from frogs).
- When we got to the page with the river otters, we had to watch this adorable otter video again. This then led to watching a video with an otter giving birth to her baby.
- We researched the difference between plantains and bananas and talked about the delicious fried plantains we had made a few weeks ago.
- We looked at images of the various homes depicted in the book, including the Yanomami’s shabonos.
- My oldest had to grab this Magic Tree House favorite to show us some parallels between the two books.
This book is more than just animals, it speaks of the importance of making a difference and caring for our planet. The book reminded us of two of our favorites: The Lorax and The Curious Garden.
Then we moved on to We’re Sailing Down the Nile by Laurie Krebs. This is a fantastic rhyming and counting book that introduces young children to Egypt and the Nile River Valley. As we journeyed through the book, we stopped to learn about the following:
- We looked at the Nile on a map to see how long it is and how it compares to the Amazon River.
- We looked up King Tut on the internet and learned more about him.
- We located Cairo on a map.
- We stopped to research mummies, including crocodile mummies.
- We watched multiple videos about the pyramids (how they were built, their size, their age, etc.).
- We researched the Pyramid of Giza.
- We learned about the Sphinx.
- The word Sphinx reminded my youngest of the word scorpion and he went on to tell us that Meerkats eat scorpions. He shared several other Meerkat related tidbits that he learned from this book, which we have on CD.
- We researched the flooding of the Nile.
- We looked at the Egyptian flag and then had a conversation about this book, which we had read the night before.
And then… when the reading was finished….
A photo posted by MyLittlePoppies (@my_little_poppies) on
Learning happens all the time when we relax and let it!
By starting off our day with Coffee and Books and a relaxed attitude, an incredible amount of learning happened. We talked about a wide array of topics covering virtually every subject. This is why I truly believe that you all you really need to homeschool is your library card!
Now, it’s your turn. Tell me: What rabbit holes have you enjoyed lately? Share here!
Cait co-hosts The Homeschool Sisters Podcast and is co-founder of Raising Poppies, a community for parents of gifted and twice-exceptional children. Cait is also founder of the Family Book Club at My Little Poppies, a fantastic community of book-loving parents and the Gameschool Community at My Little Poppies, a vibrant community of gameschoolers.
Cait is a contributing writer for Simple Homeschool and GeekMom. Her work has also appeared on The Huffington Post, The Mighty, and Scary Mommy. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram
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