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Help Your Child Find “Flow” In Homeschooling

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Help Your Child Find “Flow” In Homeschooling

By Linda Dobson

homeschoolingDuring over thirty years of trying to answer the question, “What makes a life useful and worth living?” Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (no, I can’t help you pronounce it!) has studied humans around the globe. His work is beneficial for homeschooling parents who see education’s purpose as leading children toward a life worth living and not merely toward the best paycheck available.

A Metaphor for Flow In Homeschooling

Flow, Professor C. writes in Finding Flow: the Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life, is the metaphor “that many people have used to describe the sense of effortless action they feel in moments that stand out as the best in their lives.” Professor C. says that passive leisure, such as relaxing or watching television, rarely produces flow and that our favorite activities have the best change of succeeding.This is why it’s so important for a child to receive as much opportunity as possible to pursue interests. Three main conditions appear to set the stage for the experience of flow, all very achievable in a homeschooling household:

1. A person faces a clear set of goals that require appropriate responses. Some examples of life activities that make a flow experience include golf, mountain climbing, weaving, playing a musical piece; anything that provides the opportunity to focus on clear and compatible goals.

2. The activity provides immediate feedback. How well one is doing is always extremely obvious: The golfer’s ball did or didn’t get closer to the hole, the climber slipped or moved higher on the mountain, the last row on the weaver’s loom does or doesn’t fit the pattern.

3. The challenge is just about manageable, and the person must use his skills to the utmost. The activity is not so easy as to be boring or so difficult as to cause anxiety. When high challenges are matched with high skills, the result is deep involvement.

See also Grandma Linda’s Weekly Words of Wisdom about Homeschooling

How Flow Helps Homeschooling

The best way to ensure your child receives the benefits of the learning that often accompanies flow is to provide her with these conditions as much as possible, every day. Here’s Professor C.’s explanation of why it’s worth every effort:

When goals are clear, feedback relevant, and challenges and skills are in balance, attention becomes ordered and fully invested. Because of the total demand on psychic energy, a person in flow is completely focused. There is no space in consciousness for distracting thoughts, irrelevant feelings. Self-consciousness disappears, yet one feels stronger than usual. The sense of time is distorted; hours seem to pass by in minutes. When a person’s entire being is stretched in the full functioning of body and mind, whatever one does becomes worth doing for its own sake; living becomes its own justification. In the harmonious focusing of physical and psychic energy, life finally comes into its own.

Children at play, a teen learning chess, a young lady intent on perfecting her jump shot – all could very well be experiencing “flow.” This is why play is so important in children’s lives. This is why it’s best to leave a curious child alone whenever possible.

More Ways to Add Flow to Homeschooling

Additional methods to increase the possibility of flow experiences include:

       SEEKING OUT congenial surroundings, which are often the source of inspiration and creativity

       EXPERIMENTING with surroundings, activities, and companions

       PAYING ATTENTION TO THE HOMESCHOOLING ENVIRONMENT – clear clutter, redecorate to make your home personally and psychologically comfortable

       HELPING YOUR CHILD LEARN TO PAY ATTENTION – and perhaps keep a diary of how she feels during different activities, times of day, places, and with different companions. Reviewing her information may provide both of you with many clues about for an even better homeschooling experience.

Since the purpose of any child’s education should include a good dose of creating a life that is useful and worth living, you may want to further examine the professor’s findings to see how they can contribute to your child’s homeschooling success.

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