View Full Version : How do I get the kids to see what I have strewed?

06-03-2010, 09:05 AM
I'm not an unschooler, but I am very relaxed and really like do "follow the child" on their interests. Over the years we've put together a large library of books, craft supplies, posters, games and other materials. Except for the craft supplies, which are stored in a closet - but accessible, everything is out and ready to be used. The only rule we have is that you must clean up after yourself (or at least help me clean up if you are younger). Yet, my kids are oblivious to it.

Obviously I need a better way to present. We have two built in bookcases, with doors on the bottom third. I have a shelving unit with tubs of preschool and general manipulatives (shape blocks, legos, lacing cards, etc.). Also another stand-slone bookcase along the wall near the table that holds our reference books, books of poetry and other commonly used books. I use posters along our long wall that I change out every couple of months. Then there is the hall closet that has built in shelves with clear storage containers full of craft materials.

The thing is the kids act like this stuff doesn't exist. For example, last night I went to put away some books that had been sitting on the table next to the bookshelf (I had them out so that they could be seen) The two big ones went ga-ga over the Art History book and "The Usborne book of Living Long Ago" like they had never seen them before. They had been sitting out for several weeks!!!

So the question is how do I do a better job so that THEY see and use the materials, so I don't feel like I'm pushing or limiting them toward something?


06-03-2010, 09:12 AM
HI Amy~
We have that problem as well here at our house! I do the same thing with sitting stuff out for them to take a look at and at first, they just walked on by. I try to do a to do list for them and I added that into the mix. 1. Singapore Math 2. practice instrument 3. Find one thing on DR table to look at for at least 20 mins 4. etc

It seems to work for us, they usually go over there and fight over the coolest one of course! But one day I took the day "off "and they spent the whole day doing things that were on the table and I didnt even tell them to! DH came home and said boy you were busy today, I just smiled;)

06-03-2010, 10:04 AM
Have you tried sitting down and using the stuff and seeing if they just join in? I find that works with both kids and adults. When someone sees someone else enjoying something, they want to be a part of it. :)

06-03-2010, 10:32 AM
Have you tried sitting down and using the stuff and seeing if they just join in? I find that works with both kids and adults. When someone sees someone else enjoying something, they want to be a part of it. :)

I do sometimes and probably need to do it more. The two youngers I always sit down with them to work on projects, but I'm trying to get the two older ones to work more independently and to start trying to find things that really interest them as individuals. They are always welcome to work with me and the younger ones, but I would love to see dd10 find something that really, really interests her. Because I do so much with each one during the day I'm trying to give them space to develop away from me (this really applies only to the 10 yr old).


06-03-2010, 12:31 PM
I would suggest changing out locations and items quite often. I understand the desire to keep things organized but you might have to step out of that a tiny bit.

There are plenty of places in your house that you can choose to strew items. If your children are in the living room a lot toss an interesting book under the remote control, if you found something really cool you want your 10 year old to see place it on her bed. And if something isn't being looked at repeat this mantra "Oh well". Just like the books you tried to put away-maybe they will eventually look at them-maybe not. But don't worry about it. If you find you have a bunch of stuff that they really are not interested in it go ahead and get rid of it.

We have so many things that will go unused for quite some time-and then all of a sudden it gets used and they love it and I have to laugh...because they could have been doing something with it all along....but "Oh well". It is the same way I handle toys. Every once in a while I'll go into their rooms and just kind of shuffle their toys. Things that were at the bottom of the box are now on top, things that were in a box are now on a shelf or a dresser. All of a sudden they've discovered some "new" toy that they love.

Remember that the idea of strewing is really nothing more than a suggestion. You saw an item, you thought it was cool, you brought it home and you put it somewhere accessible. The rest just has to happen...or not!

06-03-2010, 06:22 PM
I find that when you put things up on a shelf and tell the kids that they can't look at them........ they usually want to. It actually works with all ages too !

06-03-2010, 09:19 PM
I would love to see dd10 find something that really, really interests her.

I so, so hear you on this. I can engage my son in all sorts of things, but outside of comics and video games, there isn't much that he just digs into on his own. I hope that he finds something to be passionate about sometime soon!!!

07-02-2010, 02:01 AM
Maybe it's different with a child as young as mine, (he's 4.5) but I just say, "Look at this ____ we just got. Let's do it together."

He can be resistant to something new, so I have been known to say, "No, I don't want to read THAT book right now. I want to read this new one we just got. We'll read the old book next." Then, to his grumblings, we read the new book and suddenly it is his favorite. I wouldn't do this if I thought he really wasn't going to like it. But I know him and I know he just needs a little push. Maybe not radical US, but it works for us.

08-29-2010, 01:30 AM
Haha, same here. Every time I go to the used bookstore I bring back a couple of books (non-fiction, but fun) for the kids. I always, always, call them in to show the new books. Sometimes I get a "ummm, okay" other times a "wow". Then a couple of days or weeks later they ask me "is this our book?". It's like they've never seen it before. I swear they have the attention span of a gnat and the eyesight of a rhino!

08-29-2010, 07:43 AM
I used to have 'everything out and accessible' but once I started locking it away and rotating our stuff they were more interested. If something sits out too long it just becomes another piece of furniture to them. lol!!

08-29-2010, 09:07 AM
Sometimes I will put something on the coffee table, by itself (there is nothing else on the coffee table) and he is left to explore it or not. But I don't rely on this for books or projects I want to for sure do. I put those on the kitchen table and include it in DS1's sit-down school time.