Welcome to LOLIPOP

LOLIPOP began as my master's thesis - an experiment in group learning with twenty homeschool families, including over sixty kids between six and fourteen years old. I coordinated 2-4 projects happening simultaneously, in 6 week sessions. The kids had a lot of fun, and the parents learned a lot about how this energetic and enthusiastic age group can have a successful learning experience. Since this first experiment, I have conducted seminars and webinars based on the LOLIPOP concept, and published For the Love of Learning: Giving Your Child a LOLIPOP Education.
This BLOG is for all those out there, trying to give their children and students the foundation they need to grow into great scholars, thinkers, and leaders. The principles align with the Leadership Education model and foster a love for learning, build individual confidence, and teach learning strategies that apply to a life time of great learning.
Check out more info about the book, seminars, webinars, and more at www.sdlaa.com.

Lolipop Learning, and terms and concepts such as "Love of Play", "Love of Sampling", and "Love of Producing" are the sole property of Amy Edwards. “TJEd", "Leadership Education", “Love of Learning Phase”, “Inspire, not Require” and other similar terms and concepts are taken from the works of Oliver & Rachel DeMille, and are used by permission and under license. For more information, visit http://tjed.org/.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

French Fries or Apple Slices

After much, highly-publicized critism, McDonalds defended their Happy Meals by claiming that children have a choice of fries or apple slices. Of course this doesn't work, because almost no kids choose apple slices over fries. I can just imagine the screaming that would take place in my minivan if I passed out Happy Meals with apple slices instead of fries! Last week McDonalds announced that they were going a step further. They will now provide both apple slices and fries in every Happy Meal, and the serving of fries will be slightly smaller. This solution just seems like a waste of a lot of apples to me!

If my child has fries and apple slices in his Happy Meal, he will choose to eat the fries and throw out the apple slices. If my child has a choice between video games and reading a book, guess what he's choosing. Maybe you're one of the lucky ones--you have a child who chooses apple slices and reading. You lucky parents can stop reading at this point. Ok, for the rest of us, how do we inspire our children to eat the apple slices?

In Love of Learning Phase, with children under fourteen who are still falling in love with learning and building their confidence as learners, you inspire by creating the right environment. Create an environment in which your children or students have choices, but all of the choices are contributing to a great education and to learning the skills of Love of Learning Phase. Create an environment in which learning is enjoyable and accessible.

The front lines for all homeschoolers is the home. Create a home where learning is cherished and fun. Play games together. It doesn't have to be an educational game--your child can learn something from almost any game out there. My five-year-old son learned about math grids from Battle Ship! Act out math problems, bake cookies, write and act out plays, read silly poetry and memorize a couple to perform for a family night... I believe a home cannot have too many books! I know that can become an expensive endeaver, so use the library or book swap with friends. Have manipulatives out and available for kids to play with. You can buy all kinds of manipulatives in teaching stores or online, but you can also make your own for little cost.

Your children love to spend time with you. So learn with them! Read together. Read outloud to them, even if they already know how to read. I still read aloud to my 12-year-old. It's a very special time for us. Play with them, so that you can take advantage of those wonderful teaching moments that pop up naturally. Work around the house with them. There's a lot of learning that can happen as you clean the house, sort the laundry, care for pets, plan meals, run errands, etc...

What about that stuff they don't want to learn? What if they refuse to eat apple slices, even if that's the only option? First of all, hang in there, because eventually they must eat. Boredom often precedes creativity. Eventually they will choose something from the environment you have created.

If there is something that you truly believe they need to learn...get to work! Figure out a way to inspire them! Don't just give up and feed them the fries. Figure out a way to make those apple slices appealing. What activities do they already enjoy? Can you integrate this learning into an activity they already enjoy? Ask other parents and teachers for creative ideas. If it's truly important, you can figure out a way to present it without coercion.

And eventually, they will choose apple slices over fries...but that's a few years down the road.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Education Ownership

Robert Maynard Hutchins said, “The objective of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives.” How do we prepare our children and students to accept responsibility for their own education? Are we educating our children, or are we helping them to educate themselves?

Of course, young children and students in Love of Learning Phase need a parent or teacher to create a rich environment for them. They are not ready to own their education completely. You wouldn't expect your 10-year-old to buy a car, but you might expect him to save up to buy that new bike he wants. Even at a young age, our children and students can owns their education in small pieces. As you make each decision, ask yourself whether your child truly needs your mature intercession to save her from a bad choice that may have repercussions later into her life, or are you micromanaging her education to be the best YOU think it should be for her.

When we allow our students to own their education, we still guide them. We have walked the path before them, and so we hope to shed a little light upon their path. We are happy when they are able to add knowledge and skills to their intellectual bank account. But we are not devastated if they make bad choices and have set backs, because our own self-worth is not integrally connected to their success or failure. They have the freedom to fail and learn from those failures, because we do not react as if failure is intellectual bankruptcy. Sophocles taught, “It is a painful thing to look at your own trouble and know that you yourself and no one else has made it.” But this is how we learn and grow.

How can you really tell if you are owning your child's education? If we feel ownership of a student’s education, we feel personally threatened by his failure. One way to know if we are allowing our students to own their education is to observe how strongly (negatively) we react to their failures.

Have you ever noticed that children treat toys bought with their own money with greater care than those simply given to them? When our students own their education, they take care to maintain it properly. They take great pride in their academic accomplishments. They enjoy not only learning new skills and knowledge but also reinforcing the skills and knowledge they already possess.

Booker T. Washington stated, “Few things help an individual more than to place responsibility upon him, and to let him know that you trust him.” Give your children appropriate amounts of responsibility, allow them to experience the natural results of their choices, rejoice with them when they succeed, and encourage them when they fail. In the end, you will both live happy and fulfilling lives.