On socialisation and education

by Lilia Efimova on 29 December 2017

Yesterday, in a discussion with our homeschooling friends we talked about schools. About socialisation as a big part of what happens in a school, even when everyone talks that schools are  about education. In a sense that question that every homeschooler gets, often before any discussion about learning, confirms it. What about socialization? What about making friends, learning the norms, experiencing traditions, working in groups, going through conflicts…

We also talked about our homeschooling community. About the effort that it takes to build that village that we all need to raise our children. About newcomers and lurkers. About the challenges of staying open and having an environment build on trust and knowledge of each other. About the choices that everyone of us has to make, because to be fair it’s both education and socialisation that we create the conditions for. And yes, socialisation is an issue and it requires deliberate work.

The irony is that if I look closer into our homeschooling community I see way more support for socialisation than for education. Learning is always there, but a lot of it is incidental and informal. There is always play and a lot of self-directedness. Yet, it feels that “education” is what parents do with their kids outside of the group, mainly on their own. Learning to read and write, practicing a skill, going deep into a topic, reflection and documentation – those things are not often explicitly supported in the group activities that we have.

Which I find sad. Because we have a warm welcoming community that is a treasure. But for me the main purpose of it is not about being together, but about learning deep while being together. I feel that part could do with more support and intentional facilitation. Which is where I’m happy to focus in the coming time.


Learning ice skating

by Lilia Efimova on 26 December 2017

Last Friday, skating with our homeschooling friends at Openluchtmuseum I though how personally important themes return again and again. Scaffolding, community, learning from experts or novices…

It was the first time for my five years old to use hockey skates, graduating from a double runner skates she tried before. She tried to skate on the practice ring, along the fences, with supports and with me. Knowing how to skate from my childhood, I couldn’t help her much in figuring out how to do it, with all the tacit bodily knowledge that this version of “learning to ride a bicycle” involves. It was also difficult to find a position where I could provide enough support without pulling her in the wrong direction.

And then came two girls, just a couple of years older than Emily. They missed her at the big skating ring. They skated a bit together with her at the practice ring, but it wasn’t fun enough. So they convinced her to go to the “real one”. And it worked.

Two bigger girls taking a smaller one to the skating ring

Two small girls holding hands of the little girl could do what I wasn’t able to do. They, just by sharing the fun and holding her hands, gave her an experience of what skating is about, physically and emotionally, and they gave her the confidence she could do it. And then she could go further – skate together with others and try skating without supports. She could also skate with me without tension: her body knew something I couldn’t teach her.

And, a couple of links on the topic from long ago:


Winter rhythms

December 15, 2017

Looking for the drafts to finish I found a list with our weekly rhythm last winter. It’s nice to compare with this year. And yes, by “winter” I mean cold homeschooling season that stretches between September and mid-June (overlapping with the “summer” which is somewhere from mid-April to mid-October :) Winter 2016-2017 Monday afternoon: playdates, […]

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Marble runs and music machines

December 6, 2017

What started from a mesmerising video of a marble run turned into something more. After watching a couple of videos I’ve got curious about the people behind them and the whole phenomenon of (making money from) making marble runs. So we came to an article about it. And then to the video of the music […]

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15 years of blogging, FB and what’s next

November 12, 2017

Ton’s post on 15 Years of Blogging made me realise that I had reached similar milestone last June. In this post I look into “more blogging, less FB” issues and outline several points to work on.

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Verhalen van de zee: shadow puppets, storytelling and learning around

November 7, 2017
Ship at at sea shadow puppet

In this post I discuss what we did differently in our latest workshop at Wowlab and the learning around it: finding what to structure, working on a parallel project and helping without overpowering.

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Magic work

November 6, 2017
Magician Peter Bunt

Alexander has been into magician performances for a while now. So we didn’t want to miss an opportunity to see one just across the border in Muenster (and it was in Russian, which is always a bonus). What I liked the most from the performances of Piter Bunt yesterday next to the pure magic and […]

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What parents don’t see

November 3, 2017

Homeschoolers hear often that their kids are always supervised by the parents, that they lack time to be outside of the family to learn about other ways of doing things. Today, collecting photos of Sofia from Olaf Ondekt for her parents I realised how much they don’t see when she stays with us. We got […]

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Learning highlights: October 2017

October 31, 2017

Learning in all sorts and shapes in October 2017.

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Black cape

October 27, 2017
Black cape

It was fun to teach him the art of ironing seams. And, with a little advice here and there, he could do the rest. But what I admire the most is the determination.

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Convergence and unschooling

October 26, 2017

Unschooling, as a way to support your children interests feels for me as a very divergent practice. There is a lot of informal learning, exploration, following one’s curiosity and seizing the moment. Lots of bits pieces and sometimes even a big part of a puzzle. What worries me the most is convergence, creating conditions for […]

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Schat van Dalfsen

October 20, 2017
Thumbnail image for Schat van Dalfsen

Although we missed public archeological excavation at Dalfsen with our homeschooling friends, there was another chance to do it. A couple of years ago we had a guided tour at an excavation in Velikiy Novgorod. In Dalfsen kids could not only look, but participate guided by archeologists. I always appreciate those opportunities to get close […]

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Legitimate peripheral participation and having fun

October 13, 2017

This is the essence of Wowlab workshops for me, next to making: creating conditions for legitimate peripheral participation and having fun.

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Intuitive ‘instruction design’

October 12, 2017

It’s third season of the workshops for homeschoolers that we organise together with Wout Zweers, who works at an intersection of art, design and making. Today is another workshop and, being up early, I started to think about my role in the process. The first part is logistical. I sort out the dates, write announcements, […]

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