Enchantment Force 1: Surprise!

The magic of surprise is a powerful ally in learning. Surprise can take the form of doing something surprising with our kids, which is probably the first thought many of us have. However, surprise can mean showing up in surprising ways, and it can also mean letting our kids surprise us! 

Be Surprising

First, as The Brave Learner recommends, let's begin by seeing ourselves differently. As homeschool moms, we may see ourselves as our children's teachers and take on a teacherly role and persona. However, we can choose to see ourselves differently, break character, and show up for our kids in surprising ways. That might mean being goofy or generous or becoming the active learner ourselves. Surprising kids does not have to mean coming up with a "surprise thing" for them to do, it can be about being surprising ourselves.

Create Surprises

We can also make that more obvious move toward surprise, by putting things in our children's way. Unschoolers call this "strewing," but homeschoolers using all kinds of approaches can use the idea to stage our homes to create surprise.

Julie uses "Clearing the Coffee Table" as an example in The Brave Learner, suggesting parents place "an item, art supply, game, tool, or book" on a cleared coffee table after the kids have gone to bed. Then stay out of the way, and see what the kids do. If they don't explore, you can wordlessly begin immersing yourself in the activity, which invites them to join. 

Keep in mind that just as Dotty's Art Table was both example and metaphor, Clearing the Coffee Table may function the same way. In your home, you may find a different place or time to strew.

Be Surprised

Remember to leave space for your children to surprise you. They have stories to tell and new thoughts and experiences to share. We can notice and celebrate the surprises they create. We can jot down their stories, hand them the video camera, learn from them, and appreciate the worlds or projects they make. 

Readings about Enchantment and Surprise

Thoughts to ponder

When addressing school subjects, The Brave Learner asks parents to make a commitment that we will not teach what we find boring, recommending we "find the surprises first before cracking open a stiff workbook."

  • What surprises can I inject into our homeschool routine? 
  • What items will I place on the coffee table? 
  • If the coffee table is not the right place to stage surprise in our home, where and what can I strew?
  • How can I show up in a surprising way to deliver the message?
  • What can I pair with this subject or activity that will startle my child into delight?

Pay attention to what feelings these questions bring up in you. Does adding surprise into your homeschool feel natural or daunting to you? Why?

Print pages 14 and 15 of The Brave Learner Companion Guide, and write in your answers.

Posted March 1st, 2019
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