Thursday, July 17, 2008

Life Learning with the Warriors Series


My family has adopted the homeschooling philosophy known as "unschooling". Rather than do "school at home" with a purchased curriculum and a daily schedule, we follow a path that leads us to things in life that we truly enjoy learning about. Actually, we don't really even consider it learning, we are just enjoying the stimulating things that life has miraculously provided for us. With a child led way of living, we trust that our children are naturally curious beings and like a scientist, they will learn everything they need to know. I have many success stories to share about my children, but today I have been reflecting on what has been going on with Sophia lately.

When she was seven, she taught herself to read with a McGruffy reader because she wanted to learn to read the same way Laura Ingalls read. She wanted homework and time to read aloud to me. Then, oneday, she stopped. She seemed to have accomplished what she wanted from reading and took a break, although she still loved for me to read to her. When she was nine, she had the goal of reading a chapter book. She started reading OTHERWISE KNOWN AS SHEILA THE GREAT and understood everything she was reading. (I know because she would enthusiatically summarize each chapter to me the following morning). She felt so sad when it was over because she loved reading about Sheila. She went on to read other Judy Blume books. Then her unschooling friends introduced her to the the WARRIORS series by Erin Hunter. The Warriors series has really struck a cord with Sophia. She has integrated the book into all parts of her life. Here are some of the cool things she is doing.

1. She has read almost five of the Warriors books which consists of about 30 chapters each.

2. She meets weekly with her friends who play "Warriors". They chose a leader who had read the most books and they felt was "wise". As in the book, they have apprentices, warriors, and medicine cats. They all have their own warrior name and they must follow the Warrior Code.

3. Sophia is the "medicine cat" for Windclan (the clan her unschooling group adopted). She has set up a schedule for herself to learn all the different herbs and how they cure the cats. She wants to be a good, dependable medicine cat for her clan.

4. She is learning the time of day based on the position of the sun and moon.

5. She has created her first Yahoo group for her friends to share information about the book.

6. She met the author Erin Hunter at our local bookstore. She has a wonderful personality and even my husband was impressed by her sense of humor and ability to relate to the kids.

7. Sophia meets friends when playing online games and has shared her love for the Warriors books and encouraged them to read the series also, which they have done. One online game gives them the capabilities to create their own Warriors world.

8. Yesterday one of her good friends and deputy of the clan, shared a new website with her. She had to create a history and biography of herself as Spotted Heart, her cat name. She created this wonderful story of how she was left by her mother at two moons old and later realized her mother was evil.

9. Sophia has encouraged me to read the Warriors series also. The funny thing is that she remembers more of the details than I do!

There is much more that is happening, but the key is that all of this "learning" comes from her pursuing her own interests, having the time to let the information absorb in her brain so she can decide what SHE wants to do with it, and trusting herself that she can make choices about what path her education will take. When you trust that your kids are naturally curious beings, there is no stopping what they can do!