Mixed age group learning is something that comes as a part of homeschooling practice. I think it is worth exploring in other settings as well, for example when looking at learning in a family or a community. In an ideal case  learning in a same age class in school is also mixed-age, because teachers should be learning something in a process as well :)

I am trying to articulate what are the important ingredients here – a lot of it comes from the reflection on the practices in our homeschooling network and experiences of organising various learning activities there. I’m still not sure about the title – I have chosen “family learning” because I’d like to emphasise that this is about adults and kids together, not just mixed age kids group.

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If you are a parent you probably know that kids learn the most from what you do and not what you tell them. There is a big difference between telling kids how to learn and letting them observe and absorb your practices while learning alongside with them.

Working on a project together or doing something of your own when kids are present allows them to observe “parents in action”, as role-models and not only as caregivers or facilitators of kids-centric learning and activities. Essentially, this is about going from “we are here to help kids to learn/do things” to “we are here to learn and do things together with the kids”.

In this context I find two things important:

  • Mindset. Making sure that adults have something meaningful to do and to learn, next to taking care of the kids and supporting them. As a participant of an activity you can find or create something meaningful for you personally within it. As an organiser/designer of you can pay attention to adults as a target group next to the children.
  • Articulation. Learning is often invisible. What you learn and especially how you do it is not often obvious for others (if they are not trained paying attention to it :)). Thinking aloud as you work on something or sharing your reflections afterwards can help others by making the process visible to them.

More to follow :)

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Performance improvement mindset and taking it for granted

by Lilia Efimova on 9 February 2016

I tend to take for granted how much my thinking about learning has been influenced by a performance improvement mindset (which comes, between other things, from doing a master program after using learning as a mean to address various ‘performance gaps’ in practice and then going for HRD specialisation within that program).

Reading Charles Jennings discussing relationships between learning and work (see also Jane Hart) reminded me of a discussion with a friend where I tried to explain my approach to education articulating relationships between learning and work cultural practice in a similar way.

‘Taking it for granted’ doesn’t help, because the idea that work is learning and learning is the work is not so obvious. And I guess the gap to bridge is a way bigger in education, where ‘performance’ is a long-term goal rather then a pressing business, evaluation rarely goes beyond level 2 of Kirkpatrick’s model and there is legacy of learning being bound to an institution.

So, two things to think about:

  • build more on the parallels between workplace learning and education
  • articulate relationships between integration of learning into practice and the models for facilitating learning and organisational forms behind

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Homeschooling in the Netherlands: how to start networking

January 31, 2016

To learn about homeschooling from the first-hand experiences and to make sure your kids have contact with other homeschooled kids, you need to network first. How to you go about it if you don’t know any homeschooling families in person?

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Three learning and teaching trends in 2016 and the essence of homeshooling

January 27, 2016

Those three themes capture the essence of homeschooling for me at this point. Student-driven personalised learning as a main driving force, experimenting with learning models and environments as a mean to get something that works and looking for alternative models for learning assessment as a way to improve and as a mean to judge where we are in relation to the formal educational system.

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Wat is het doel van onderwijs? and networked learning

January 24, 2016

  An interview-based documentary about the purpose of education, a good one to watch. It’s still very much school-centric view on education, as if it is unthinkable to question the institution itself. It also doesn’t touch on the thorny question “who controls learning?”. All of which is not bad, because “compatibility with current practices” is […]

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In search for reflection formats that fit

January 14, 2016

When I stopped working, one of the things I wanted was about doing more non-digital, observable things. In other words – living a life that could be more easily shared with children, because they can observe and participate. Today, I suddenly realised that I’m starting to miss ‘the other side’. In a contrast with the […]

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More blogging, less Facebook

January 5, 2016

In the last hours of 2015 the story on how Social networks are turning the internet into television by Hossein Derakhshan came to me, via Facebook, of course. He writes about striking contrast between internet as a web with its hyperlinked currency before and the television model that it’s becoming now: Even before I went to jail, though, the power […]

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From 2015 to 2016

January 3, 2016

Those three days were a lot of fun. Improv, playing on stage and on the floor, making fire, old and new songs, Turner in Rijksmuseum Twente, skating, walking, laughing, cooking, sharing thoughts and food with friends, big and small. And knipertjes that came as an unexpected gift, just in time to celebrate the year about to […]

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Unschooling structures: shape and focus

December 16, 2015

One of the things that is on my thinking radar now is what I call ‘unschooling structure’ – the things that help to shape and focus learning. In particularly I’m wondering about providing kids with an exposure to and participation in practices of the society (thinking in terms of Lave&Wenger here). For me those have […]

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On (failure to write) well-thought posts

December 16, 2015

While my writing was derailed by Anna’s finger getting trapped in a door (almost healed by now) and the busyness of the holiday season (and here Christmas is nothing compared to the suspense of Sinterklaas), the thinking continues. Ideally, I’d like to write a well-research posts full of references to relevant material, but every time […]

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What unschooling and unconferences have in common?

November 11, 2015

It’s a challenge to explain to others what unschooling is about. I often use parallels with unconferences to explain how it works, but I still lack a language to talk about the details. So I start to explore the challenges and develop the language :)

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Right brain to do list

November 9, 2015

In a long and winding way I’ve got to reading stuff on ‘right brain’. A lot of it is still fussy and I’m stuck with sources in three languages this time, but I need a placeholder for the things to dig further: visual-spatial learning – links and how-to visual and spatial as two different things […]

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It comes back

November 7, 2015

A few days ago we talked about polar night and day, and watched videos on relationships between changing seasons, length of the day and position of the Earth in relation to the Sun. Today Anna played with animation software on iPad and came up with a little winter movie. When she came to show it […]

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One game with three kids

October 28, 2015

Playing a 6+ board game with 8, 5 and 3 years old kids is a patience-testing endeavour. We managed for quite a while, but now they have to spend their energy outside of the house (and very conveniently there enough leaves to be cleaned in front of it). This is what I wrote on Facebook. […]

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