Happy New Ways

Happy new year!

I always felt that the start of the new year was a good time to press your refresh button, take a moment to review your home educating days, and bring some awareness to what’s worked well over the last year and more importantly, what hasn’t!!

It’s such a simple concept, often overlooked, to spot the things that are not working and remember that you can change them. That’s the beauty of home education. So have a think back, winkle out the things that need changing, look at approaching things in new ways, look at new projects you can start, new skills that could be developed, new interests pursued, new connections to make.

Whatever you have in your home ed life there is always room for change and for growth. There has to be, if you think about it, for children change all the time and that’s how education is developed; not necessarily by accumulating knowledge but also by working out what there is to know, by developing the skills to learn, by changing to accommodate new concepts, by taking time to practice new skills.

So look out for new activities that will enable this growth, that perpetuate the progression of skills and accomplishments. However, don’t get bogged down in thinking they always have to be academic; there is far more to developing a roundly educated person than mere academic study.

For example; any kind of creative activity is beneficial to the development of education. Creative practices develop mental skills just as much as learning the times tables or practicing grammatical exercises. Creative activities require thought and observation, imagination and problem solving, hypothesising and lateral thinking. Creative practises develop both mental skills and motor skills in ways you’ll perhaps never know. For example, drawing, colouring in, painting, designing, cutting, building models, customising, manipulating materials, inventing, gaming, sewing or knitting, cooking and baking, all contribute in developing the skills and intelligence necessary for writing, computing, coding, reading, solving mathematical problems and boosting intelligence generally. There’s a cross over of skills required for so many different educational disciplines that creative practices can develop. (see a former blog here).

But don’t limit your activities to the mental, or sedentary, creative or otherwise. Physical activities are just as important for the healthy development of the educated mind too. Children need to be moving.

New understanding of children’s development has shown that being physical is as important to developing intelligence as those mental activities you’d normally associate with learning. It’s important for their mental well being too. Physical exertion increases blood flow – we know that. But we forget perhaps that the brain also needs a healthy blood flow as much as our muscles do. Increased blood flow to the brain stimulates ideas and solutions, mental capacity and flexibility, originality and insightfulness and confidence and therefore intelligence. (An article here – ignore the sensationalist title!) You often hear writers or philosophers or pop stars say that the ideas for their books or songs came when they were walking or hiking or cycling or whatever. (The ideas I’ve had are the same – I’ve often needed to stop in the middle of a freezing field and note something down).

So whatever new projects you inject into your new home educating year – from gardening or growing, through art work or construction, den building or community projects, to exercising and exploring, and time outside – introduce routines that include daily creative and physical tasks. They are as essential to your child’s development as anything academic that you do and will benefit their education in untold ways.

Even better; tossing out old habits and introducing new ways always give you a buzz, so it may even make everyone happier.

Happy new home educating year!

Get outside whatever the weather then go back and get creative!

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