Homeschool Strewing

Just by itself homeschooling can make everyday learning rich and interesting, but homeschool strewing is the sprinkles on the cake!

Homeschool Strewing

What is Homeschool Strewing?

Strewing is term coined by Sandra Dodd, and is allowing your child to discover something you have casually (but intentionally) left out for them to find. It is a way of supporting our children in the things that they love – and encouraging new interests they may never have thought of.

Imagine you like to embroider and someone leaves a small tempting basket of beautifully colored threads on the windowsill. Wouldn’t that make your fingers itch to create something wonderful. Or you love Marlon Brando (it happens!) and someone finds out about a less well-known film he was in and rents you a copy. Wouldn’t that make you feel good?

This is what strewing for our children is all about.

Now what if someone turned up with your beautiful basket of threads and then scheduled a particular time to make you sit down to embroider. Or kept nagging at you to watch the film even when you are not quite in the mood. Not so good eh?

Again, that is what strewing about. Not scheduling them a time to do a particular art activity or read a certain book. But allowing them to discover, explore and make connections on their own – and in their own time.

How does it work in practice?

Here is an example. I found a book on sale at the library about arrowheads. It looked a little old for my kids but I took it home and left it on the table. Ok, technically that might have been more ‘too lazy to put it away’ than strewing but still! My daughter picked it up and flicked through it, and before too long was out in the garden digging around for flints. We found some likely looking ones and ended up scheduling a trip to a local flint mine where (to my children’s absolute delight) they confirmed two of our finds as arrowheads.

Another time I left out some little paper dolls. The children turned these into an amazing game they called ‘Paper World’ complete with its own economy – they didn’t like that some of the paper dolls got richer than the others so first tried taxing, and then made everyone take a stint at each occupation! It sparked a lot of conversation about how different countries run things, democracy, royalty and economics 🙂

What to Strew?

The best place to start with strewing are the things your children already like or love. You can strew educational items but often the things that go down best are the curiosities that spark un-planned learning. You already know that sometimes the cardboard box makes a better toy than the toy! You never know what will be the spark. Homeschool strewing is being open to non-conventional and spontaneous moments of learning.

Think wide and all-encompassing. Not just physical things but tastes and sounds are great too. Here is a list to get you started!

  • an unusual fruit in the fruit bowl
  • a new board game – try one of these
  • a book that will bring history to life
  • a craft kit or little drawing book and pencils
  • polymer clay, yarn, a box of paints
  • blank greetings cards or a pack of blank index cards
  • postcards – especially of art or places
  • printed instructions on how to make/draw something
  • a fun coloring book (you can get some really amazing ones)
  • foreign stamps, money or songs from a different country
  • a recipe book or printed recipe

There are no rules and no things you ‘must’ strew. Just go with the flow and keep your eyes (and ears!) open for new and interesting things your children might like.

Strewing has enriched and diversified the education in our homeschool. I hope you give it a try.

Julie Gilbert

About the author

Julie has homeschooled her two children in the UK throughout their childhood. Since 2008 she has been sharing their homeschooling projects and activities. With one child at University and one child working, she now has the freedom to support others in their homeschooling journey.

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