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  1. #1

    Default How far do rabbit trails go?

    Im trying to figure out the right balance of how much to encourage *ahem, push* rabbit trailing. I dont mind going into more depth about a subject, but when I try regulating or making more "projects" out of an interest, they usually fizzle before they're done.
    Ive started telling DS11 to "google it" when he has a question about something, because that's what I do. I was curious about pre-plumbing toilets on sailing ships this morning, and after about a half hour and a few specialty websites, I had answers. No essays or stories or projects needed.
    Is that all other people expect with their kids when they are following their curiosity? I guess I feel the need to have something concrete to show for "schooltime".
    Is there some happy medium, or do I just need to learn to be comfortable knowing we werent wasting time, and more knowledge is tucked away in his brain, even if I dont have external evidence of it?
    What is the attention span for other kids on these sorts of things?
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.


    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

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  3. #2


    In our house, all of the 'rabbit trails' somehow end up weaving themselves into an intricate tapestry of the girls' pretend play. Right now, they have the dinosaurs sailing with Odyssey and a whole bunch of Greek gods and goddesses to England to visit Queen Victoria. (5yo is going through the dinosaur stage, 7yo is obsessing about Greek mythology, and 9yo is all about Victorian England, Charles Dickens, and Oliver Twist).

    These crazy concoctions change periodically and take in new interests and obsessions, but I have noticed a kind of semi-permanence - once the interest is there, it tends to come and go, but it always comes back. I would say that the active interest stage is about 2-4 weeks, then it fizzles down for a couple of weeks-months, and then it keeps coming back and integrating itself with everything else (of course, not without some gentle guidance, wink).

    My kids are still young, though, so I do not expect any tangible 'proofs of schooling'.
    mom to 3 girls: DD10, DD9, DD6

  4. #3
    Senior Member Evolved Deli76's Avatar
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    I tell dd to google it or look it up next time we go to the library. We also have some old college books she can take a look at as well as some light reading books that are pretty informational.
    Bobo 13 yrs old - marches to the beat of her own drum, driven, out going and loud, yet she loves nature
    Booger Boy 21 yrs old - quiet, self assured, confident and laying his own path

    umbers cucumbers!!!!

  5. #4


    I think it just depends on your philosophy and skill.

    I don't think there's anything wrong with not letting rabbit trails be a big distraction to schoolwork and putting them off for kid free time and to be explored mainly through the internet and books.

    I also don't think there's anything wrong with building your whole homeschool around rabbit trails.

    We tend to aim somewhere in between, as I think most people do. I think it's a really difficult skill to achieve basic content and basic skills if you *only* do lots of rabbit trails or allow school to be derailed by them several times a week. It can be done! And what your conception is of the needed skills and content may differ from others. But... I mean, a systematic look at algebra doesn't usually happen on the fly, you know? On the other hand, if we never let rabbit trails take over, that would be a bit joyless, at least for me personally.

    One thing I'll distinguish is that we do a great deal of child led content. I plan units around things the kids want to learn and I build in time for rabbit trails within that. That, to me, is different from the on the fly sort of thing where a kid is like, I just read that such and such, what's that mean! And suddenly you're off in a different direction that your plans.
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How far do rabbit trails go?