Some of you may be wondering…
If your child does self-directed learning, what do you do?
Some people may even think that this is not ‘real’ education, or that we do this because I’m just too lazy to be arsed.
While my role is vastly different in self-directed learning, it remains a crucial one.
First of all, what is that role?
Instead of teaching or even parenting, my job could be more called mentor. Although I am not completely satisfied with the accepted definition of that as ‘to give them help and advice over a period of time.’
Yes, definitely, to the first half of that. My primary role is to offer @PanKwake any help that she asks for. To the best of my ability.
Often that means actively seeking out and acquiring resources on her behalf. For instance, she has wanted to learn another language for some time. This, also, is one of those curriculum ‘requirements’ listed as age appropriate for her.
But I know personally how hard learning another language can be when you are dyslexic. While I consider my dyslexia mild and have met most of the challenges presented by it, spelling and foreign languages remain my stalwart opponents. A few months ago, I wanted to learn Gaelic. I signed up with Duolingo. I quit after a few weeks. While I could get grammar and vocabulary, it was impossible for me to hear the sounds.
And @PanKwake’s dyslexia is much, much more challenging than mine. She not only has my difficulties with phonics, but also inherited her father’s challenges with short-to-long-term memory transitioning. As a result, she may never ‘read’ more than a few words.
She, herself, recognized the challenges incumbent with learning another language. But her desire to do so remained strong. She came up with the idea of sign language. Living in the UK, she specifically wanted to learn British Sign Language. Of course, there are literally thousands upon thousands of resources on her favorite learning media – YouTube.
But many of those are ASL (American Sign Language). The other problem she encountered was that most of the others required the ability to read. These videos usually had no audio or music. The word would appear in text on the screen, then someone would sign it. For obvious reasons, that would never work.
Both of us scoured the internet and especially YouTube for an accessible option for her. Then, I discovered through a Facebook breadcrumb trail, this video:
And away she went. So far, she has conquered this one as well as ‘How Far I’ll Go’ from Moana. Yes, she retains many, if not most, of the words. In only a couple of weeks, too.
I am extremely proud of her. Not only for sticking to it, but because of how incredibly useful this life skill might be. In fact, at the end of our road is a young deaf girl, just a couple of years younger than @PanKwake. I know from neighbors that this family feels exceedingly isolated from our community. I look forward to the lifting of isolation when we can march over there and introduce ourselves. And @PanKwake can reach out to another ‘different’ young person.
Socialization is another arena of @PanKwake’s education where I help to bring resources to the table. Whether it is as her social secretary, scheduling play dates, or by hiring companions who foster her socials skills and independence, this is a top priority for me.
Other ways that I help her include:
Yes, I know you may think that all parents do that with their children. But I challenge you – Do they really? Do they actively engage in communication that is reciprocal and based upon mutual respect? Or do they simply talk to or at their young person? Make demands or give commands?
Whether it is @PanKwake’s astute ‘would you rather’ questions, a discussion of how her special interests might translate into career opportunities, or our debates about education, sexuality, and the meaning of life. I know my daughter in a way that many parents do not. And over time I have built a deep and biding trust and mutual respect that does exactly what Article 29 says…
Education must develop every child’s personality, talents and abilities to the full. It must encourage the child’s respect for human rights, as well as respect for their parents, their own and other cultures, and the environment.UN-CRC
I have rarely met adults with a level of understanding and rest for other cultures and the environment that @PanKwake possesses.
But you might be wondering…
How would you document and report learning if it is self-directed?
We’ll get to that one tomorrow.