Thuisonderwijzers leren samen: learning with adults

by Lilia Efimova on October 3, 2014

Thuisonderwijzers leren samen buttonThis week is National Education Week in the Netherlands and its focus is on learning socially. Dutch homeschoolers are participating as well, with a blog hop Thuisonderwijzers leren samen.

For me the social is at the core of learning, so it took a while to figure out what exactly to write about. Learning for a school aged kids is often associated primarily with studying in a group of peers under a guidance of a few professionals. I would like to focus on another social aspect of learning – learning from and with adults outside of formal educational settings.

I’d like to share bit of our own experiences – how our own kids learn outside of classes and sports aimed at children, and what roles adults play in this learning.

Observing workersProfessionals at work

When we were moving to our current house, we had kids with us through the whole process – looking at houses, talking about a mortgage, signing papers and getting keys. Alexander went around with the guy doing technical check – all the way around, climbing to the crawlspace. He drew a plan of our house to be sold and took a house broker (not sure what “makelaar” is in English ;) for a guided tour.

Talking about bonesAnd it goes like that all the time: if there is an opportunity to observe professionals doing their work, kids will seize it. If  it goes further than an occasional contact, they will make friends – a fish seller at the market who chatted with the kids every time we were there  (and gave a little discount :), workers who isolated our house and left wood for Alexander to work with because of his interest in making things, an osteopath who, triggered by questions about displays in his office, had long conversation with the kids about human bodies, theater performers who were happy to explain how their decorations were made so they fit in a small car, volunteers at a museum who told us unwritten stories behind the things on display and who were very happy when the kids were helping them to clean leaves in the garden…

Family and friends

3dPrintingWhen you are not in a hurry, it doesn’t take long to get to know interests and hobbies of people around you, and usually those people are happy to share their passions. Reading, arts, crafts, theater, playing golf, making music, singing and dancing, climbing, story-telling, gardening, building, hiking, English (next to Russian and Dutch of course), cooking, making countless things in and around a house – those are things that our kids do more or less regularly with family or friends in the Netherlands and Russia. It often happens without us being directly involved and always accompanied by conversations about work at hands or life, universe and everything.

Homeschooling parents
What I didn’t expect when we started this journey is how fast kids build their own relationships with parents of other kids. However it’s not very surprising given that we do spend a lot of time together, in mixed age groups of brothers, sisters and parents (and sometimes grandparents).

At Watermuseum TO uitjeOf course, there is learning around hobbies and interests of other parents and learning around things we do together with kids – picking berries or chestnuts, playing with telescopes or microscopes, doing crafts or visiting museums… But what I find even more important are opportunities for building trust and having regular interactions with people often very different from our own professional and personal networks and most of whom we were not likely to meet if not homeschooling. (And, as a parent and as an educator I value a lot an opportunity to have more adults who see kids and my interactions with them on a regular basis – feedback and triangulation are always good).


BushcraftWe do facilitate learning of our kids – that’s in the heart of homeschooling. But in the context of this post I find another thing equally important. We do spend a lot of our time with kids not focused on learning per se, but just doing things together: things that have to be done, things we enjoy or those that are part of our hobbies or professional activities. Shopping, house organisation, bushcraft, gardening, sewing, wood-working, programming, 3d printing or workshop facilitation – are all part of the curriculum simply because there are moments then they could only be done with the kids around. Hopefully through that our kids not only learn more about the world around them, but also see what being an adult entails and how to juggle (or integrate ;) multiple identities that all of us have.

Legitimate peripheral participation

TO camp knowledge sharing workshopI’ve long believed in learning in a context, learning that’s not unnecessary separated from the “real world” by textbooks and classroom walls, learning that happens thought social interaction “in the wild”. For our kids, learning with and from adults is a way to become member of the society as a whole and to explore specific communities of practice via legitimate peripheral participation, starting from observing others in authentic settings and then interacting, learning, practicing with others – hopefully to eventually become experts themselves.


Sitting on a fence: should I make another blog?

by Lilia Efimova on September 27, 2014

I think I’m ready to get back to blogging regularly, but I am caught in a logistical issue: should I continue blogging here or move to another blog (have .nl domain and basic WP installed for a while now).

Many of the things I want to blog about are not fitting easily in this blog – gardening, cooking and making things with my own hands – so it would be fine for a new one. But there is a huge overlap that comes from wanting to write on homeschooling-related topics: learning, relationship building, facilitation. These are where it would help to have a history and a connection.

Also, there is an audience change. I want to connect more to the readers in the Netherlands and although I can’t write comfortably in Dutch yet, some things I’ll be writing will be focused on the local things and linking to the Dutch-speaking internet. I’m also thinking of writing post summaries in Dutch.

And there is also a future. I’ll be back to working at some moment, but at the moment it’s not clear how much it would be related to what I did before. I want to keep (whatever is left of :) my old professional identity, but I would also like to experiment with new things.

So I don’t know, should I continue here or there? Dividing between two wouldn’t work. May be blogging there and cross-posting relevant things here? Or taking a plunge and reshaping this blog to add new sides of me that want to be visible and then dealing with what comes out?


Unschooling myself and project-based learning

December 15, 2013

In a sense it feels like starting from scratch. Like I forgot everything I knew from theory and practice under the weight of the responsibility of helping my own kids to learn. At times I feel that I’ve never learnt so intensely and so transformatively as I learn now. It’s very much true that unschooling […]

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Do I give lessons at home?

November 7, 2013

When I tell people that we are homeschooling our kids, they usually say something like “so, you give lessons to your kids at home, right?”. No really :) Like today. When kids woke up we had an idea to eat chocolate before breakfast – just because you need exceptions from the rules once in a […]

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Family sabbatical

January 16, 2013

With the last blogpost published more than a year ago I guess the time is right for an update. So here it is :) Although I shamelessly stole the title of this post from a very nice book, it’s not about an extended family travel. I like how the meaning of “sabbatical” is described in Wikipedia […]

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Not bloging, identities and Happy New Year :)

December 31, 2011

I go to Nancy’s blog to look for the Pear & Cranberry Chutney recipe to cook for tomorrow and then remember that I have a blog too and that it had been silent way too long. So here I am :) The truth is that I feel a bit like a caterpilar in a cocoon […]

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A long due update

May 5, 2011

It’s hard starting after a break – there are way too many stories to tell and way too many thoughts that came in between. So I start somewhere. I had a burnout – going on and off after my PhD defense and not very obvious behind the usual “not feeling normal” during my pregnancy. But […]

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An afterlife of a paper tea box

February 7, 2011

Paper tea box that’ve been at Alexander’s play kitchen for ages went into recycling. A few days after he founds a lid of it and then realises that the box is not there anymore and can’t be brought back. The tears of loss come and then I embrace him in my arms to tell a […]

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While it looks still…

November 18, 2010

…there is a lot of turbulence underneath. I’m trying to figure out if I had a burnout (looks very much like it) and what is a way out. Still rethinking work-life balance. My professional values and parenting values align quite well, but the realities of putting them into practice do not mix well. Looking at […]

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The first dress

September 23, 2010

They grow so fast. Of course I knew it. But to know, theoretically, and to feel time slipping away from you are two different things. The box with baby clothes, first sizes, just-in-case-there-will-be-one-more, is almost ready. And there is that first dress that doesn’t fit anymore. I just can’t put it in the box – […]

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What I’m doing these days

July 19, 2010

…learning how to live life with two kids …building forts …washing diapers …growing tomatoes and trying to eat berries from our garden before birds eat them …observing practices of online parenting communities …suffering from the hot weather (well, at least diapers dry fast :) …enjoying summer evenings …reviewing reports …allowing email backlog to build up […]

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June 4, 2010

Our Anna is here! One more little hand to hold, one more little person to learn from, one more life full of discoveries… Tired, happy and loving every moment of it. 2 June 2010, 18:13

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May 21, 2010

I’m on maternity leave, which this time happens to coincide with a strong need to sort out offline things (like accumulated mess in the house, nothing too scary :))), so I’m quiet pretty much everywhere online. If I get to online backlogs I might post some work-related things here, but in the coming few months […]

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Being there together via presence and activity traces

April 15, 2010

I’ve been playing with this idea for a long time and it’s far from having any definite shape, but, as usual, writing about it should help. [This post is another round of thinking on What a coffee corner provides, how to call it and a research agenda and an attempt to integrate bits of thinking […]

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