Guerilla Learning

Are you a guerilla? No, I don’t mean one of those large, ape-type creatures, although you might feel like one some of the time. I mean someone who doesn’t quite believe in the structure of institutional learning that school provides. Perhaps your children go to school, or maybe you’re homelearners. Whatever your children’s educational situation, Grace Llewellyn and Amy Silver’s classic book Guerilla Learning: Giving Your Child a Real Education With or Without School can help guide you.

Learning should be part of a child’s entire life, and it is part of a child’s entire life, whether we remember this or not. Learning does not only happen in school. If your child is in school, there are holidays, before school, after school and weekends. There may be the opportunity to take a long learning vacation, a part year sabbatical, or just the occasional day off. There are opportunities to enrich your child’s learning experiences through classes and field trips and becoming a partner in your child’s learning, whether he is in or out of school.

Look for opportunities to show your child what passion and creativity look like. Create things yourself and be around those who create things. These things don’t need to be art objects – they could be classes, social movements, a new park. What child wants to grow up to be an adult who is downtrodden? Children believe that they can do anything. Show them adults who can.

Be relaxed about school and grades. Let your child move on at his own pace. There is so much pressure for our kids to be at the top of everything. Let your child learn slowly or quickly, as children do when they are not in school. Feel all right if your child is not in the top reading group or spends most of his time obsessing over birds or Lego. That’s ok. That is your child. If you feel that your child has a learning disability and is feeling stymied, get help. If you feel that your child is simply moving more slowly than some of the other children and will grow into a certain type of learning in time, calm down. Give your child time to be a child and play.

Look for your child’s interests and provide opportunities for her to follow them. This might involve pointing out to your child that she seems to love building things, then taking her to see what architects really do. Provide opportunities, but don’t push just because your child seems keen. Sometimes opportunities that are explored and then dropped come back again when a child gets older.

Image courtesy of Mattox at Stock Exchange.