Do you want to keep the wonder in childhood? Embrace playtime and curiosity, nature and story? Maybe you want to trust your gut as a mother, even if all the experts are telling you otherwise. If this resonates with you, then you’ll want to learn how to encourage a wild + free learning environment in your homeschool.
What is the wild + free philosophy
The wild + free philosophy comes from Ainsley Arment’s book The Call of the Wild + Free: Reclaiming Wonder in Your Child’s Education. Even as a veteran homeschool mom, I felt like her book was a breath of fresh air.
Two moms would especially benefit from looking deeper into this learning philosophy.
First, if you’re a brand new homeschool mom looking for someone to cast a vision for what the years of learning with your children could look like, then this is the book for you. It will give you the confidence to trust your mothering instinct and embrace a childhood full of curiosity.
Second, if you started homeschooling by trying to replicate the public school at home, then this book will speak to you as well. Most likely, you’re feeling stressed, burned out, or way behind with this type of homeschool structure. Ainsley’s book will help you see how the natural wonder and curiosity of childhood is drained right out of children who are funneled into a traditional factory school pedagogy.
The Wild + Free philosophy has five core values:
- The School of Nature
- The Power of Story
- The Pedagogy of Play
- The Curriculum of Curiosity
- The Magic of Wonder
Check out this podcast episode at 4onemore.com to hear Ainsley Arment elaborate on these core principles.
How wild + free homeschools look
So what does this look like in your day to day home education? I think many of us just need to give ourselves permission to trust our instincts. In other words, reclaiming motherhood is a big part of homeschooling.
This means that we don’t have to listen to the “experts” or the “professionals” when it comes to educating our children. We don’t have to have a teaching degree in order to homeschool. We must trust that we have what it takes to teach our children at home simply because we know and love them best.
Really, the wild + free homeschooling philosophy really comes down to living life with our children. Does this look like sitting at a school desk filling out mindless worksheets about birds, or plants, or the seasons? Or does it look like getting outside and seeing those birds, picking up leaves to identify, and walking the same paths all year to learn about how things change with the seasons?
Part of this is realizing that play is an essential part of childhood. Our children’s brains are developing and growing with the hard work of play. Let’s make more time for meaningful, imaginative play rather than less time!
While kids are playing, they’re probably using the characters or settings of their favorite stories. This is because everyone loves a story, and creating a culture of reading is essential and foundational to this philosophy. We’ve found that rigid reading curriculum that is dry and clinical (like a traditional classroom) is not a good fit for our children. Maybe you need to break out of the big box curriculum mold too, especially when it comes to reading! Give yourself permission to allow your kids to love reading again, or for the very first time. This aspect has been transformational in our homeschool.
Finally, curiosity and wonder are naturally a part of children, unless it’s been schooled out of them. Our job as parents is to nurture this and give them the conditions to thrive.
Use What You Have
You may think that you can only incorporate amazing nature studies if you live on a farm on near a hiking trail. But really, you can encourage this hands-on, naturally-curious approach to the world around you with what you have. It doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated!
Here’s just one example of how you don’t need to spend more money to create this type of learning environment. You can buy expensive tinker crates if you want to, but it’s really not necessary.
One great idea from Ainsley’s book was to create a collection of “loose parts” for your children to build, create, and tinker with. Here are some of her ideas that you could collect for your kids:
- pine cones
- PVC piping parts
- egg cartons
- wooden spools
- wooden beads
- nuts and bolts
- old keys and locks
- wooden bowls
If you want the freedom to just enjoy life with your kids, then do it! If this type of homeschooling style resonates with you because it gives you the freedom to ditch the textbooks, or what the experts say you should do, then go with it! Your children are only young once. You can embrace the call of the wild and free.
You can hear Ainsley on the Homeschool with Moxie podcast and enter to win three of her books valued at $62! (Giveaway ends 11/13 at 11:45PM EST. U.S. mailing addresses only, please.)
Abby is a former public school teacher, now homeschooling her five children. She’s in the trenches just like you and knows it can be challenging to be home with your kids all day while you struggle to keep up with the housework and educate your kids (and maybe even work on the side!). She blogs over at www.4onemore.com and hosts the Homeschool with Moxie podcast.