I sit here, a few feet away, in awe. And yet what happens here is so common place I'm amazed it still awes me. In actuality it takes us all of 2-3 hours to complete what others would call "school". But truth be told, the learning happens from sun up till sun down around here.
As the year comes to a close and our routines are firmly planted, I've started to loosen the reigns and watch the kids flourish. At 5 and 6 they are already becoming independent in their learning, taking control of their own learning routine and schedule. Lately I've showed Jonah the plans for the day and let him choose what he wants to work on, at his own pace. The only agreement is that it has to be done. I don't care if what order or how long he lingers on one particular subject. And when it's done, HE is done! Whether it takes him 30 minutes or 3 hours is up to him!
Without the confines of institutional schools and bell schedules, my kids are free. Free to take an hour to practice a new Math concept or finish reviewing spelling words in 10 minutes. They are free to dig into manipulatives and supplies when the mood strikes and they have an "idea" about how something works. Learning is all around, ready and available to them at any time. Because our learning happens at home, our home becomes a mecca of learning opportunities ready for the taking!
I can't count how many times I've walked in on one child sitting in our circle time nook reading science or Language Arts books. Writing stories (using phonetic spellings of course) in dry eraser. Playing Math games on the computer or creating Solar circuits. Making a craft, drawing a picture, creating some new invention.
It's a daily occurrence that our "after school" hours are filled with learning and exploring completely delight directed, child directed. The kind I know they wouldn't have the freedom to do in an institution. The kind of learning that truly lasts a life time. The kind of learning that stays with them long past the section, unit, review. The kind of learning that grows and expands on their own. The kind of learning they want to pursue and follow instead of leave behind. It's not forced or coerced.
It's free, they are free.