The magic of connecting the dots

by Lilia Efimova on 22 August 2015

What I like the most about facilitating learning is the magic of connecting the dots. Or, better, being patient enough to see the kids connecting the dots by themselves.

At Troitsky excavation site in Veliky NovgorodJust a small thing today, seeing how the eyes light up when a book description of how paleontologists study dinosaur fossils matches what we have seen at archeological excavation in Veliky Novgorod a few weeks ago. Precious.

And then, of course, we had to do an excavation ourselves, which still have to be finished and properly documented (because it was interrupted by an applestroop project, also to be finished). And it’s all started from one very round stone that looked very much like a dinosaur egg and an innocent question about the actual size of those eggs.


From butterflies to pie charts

by Lilia Efimova on 18 August 2015

Butterflies and pie chartsThis is how learning usually happens in our family: we start at one point and end up somewhere totally different. This time Anna wanted to draw a butterfly and wasn’t sure how to draw it and how to color the wings. We talked about the shape, about symmetry and then Robert mentioned that “sometimes they even have ‘eyes’ on their wings”.

That usually calls for an encyclopedia. It came out, we looked at the ‘eyes’ and talked why they were there. And then discussed other things about butterflies (as well as their differences from moths – just because there was a comparison on the page). However, Alexander was more interested in the little square showing numbers of extinct, endangered, vulnerable and threatened butterfly species and a corresponding graph.

We ended up looking through the whole book to find what the abbreviations meant and to compare endangered species graphs for different classes of animals. Then (of course :)) the relationship between the numbers and the graphs came out. So we talked about it, played making pie charts and then other types of graphs that kids know from looking at the weather forecasts…

And the good thing is that despite all that Anna has actually managed to draw and color her butterfly, complete with its own eyes and eyelashes :)

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On reading

May 29, 2015

You recognise an unschooling house by its space and materials… This time I pick up ‘How children learn’ from a shelf and start reading on reading. Between other things Jonh Holt writes about the complexity of a language that children learn by themselves and how reading compares to it.

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Using Cynefin for learning design?

April 26, 2015

I’d like to play more with using Cynefin framework when designing/facilitating learning experiences, so I’d be very happy with pointers to relevant reading and experiences.

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Holding the space

April 25, 2015

I often find it difficult to pinpoint in traditional terms what exactly I do. As I read about holding space it becomes clear that this is the biggest part of my job in facilitating unschooling.

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Scaffolding on a slide

April 18, 2015

I posted this on Facebook, but want to have it here, because FB is new email, where knowledge goes to die together with memories, classification and ability to find your own stuff back. *** Anna was scared to go sliding. So those two boys had built a sand ‘dam’ for her to shorten the slide, […]

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Learning to read: full sentences and whole books

April 16, 2015
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Witnessing how reading can come without formal instructions is magical. It shows that learning that comes from within can go way beyond our expectations. Especially if we let expectations go and let it unfold while holding the space and giving a hand when needed :)

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Learning highlights: March 2015

April 1, 2015
Learning highlights March 2015

Eventually I’d like to get into portfolios that kids make for themselves, but that is still ahead. So I’d start small with keeping monthly “learning highlights” posts and then see where it gets us.

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Family bias and what to do about it when homeschooling

March 30, 2015
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While homeschoolers aim at well rounded education for their kids, it’s often possible to observe what I call “family bias” – traces of parents’ own interests and preferences in learning experiences of their kids. So, what can be done about it?

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Things you learn while homeschooling

February 14, 2015
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You learn a lot while helping your kids to learn 24/7. Those are from my “top 3″ list: recognise signal in the noise, focus and take care of yourself.

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Educational innovation: schools vs homeschooling?

February 10, 2015

It’s a pity that with the current educational climate there is often either/or situation where school system and homeschoolers do not want to do much with each other. At the end it is not that important where educational innovations appear as far as all sides are open to learn from it.

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Learning is everywhere

February 7, 2015
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Learning doesn’t necessary take a lot of time. It takes a mindset of recognising learning opportunities and going for them. And a bit of practice – of observing, improvising and not making a duty out of play :)

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Facilitating learning of our kids

February 3, 2015
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Where are many ways to do homeschooling, so it’s often difficult to explain what exactly we do. I can go on with specific examples, but also find it important to articulate educational principles that guide our practice.

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Year of confidence

January 2, 2015

Going through the photos of 2014 I just realised what it was for me – a year of confidence. Since I stopped working four years ago things were very much in turmoil – taking care of two and then three kids, homeschooling, being the primary one responsible for running things in the house and garden. […]

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