Strewing is one of the best ways to add delight and creativity to your homeschool days whether you’re a full-on unschooler or a more traditional homeschool family.
Strewing is quite simply laying out items that you think will be of interest to your children and letting them interact with them as they see fit.
You can strew almost anything: books, games, musical instruments, puzzles, nature items, science kits, crafting supplies. The possibilities are endless! You can even strew experiences like field trips or digital items like apps, audiobooks, or ebooks that you download to your child’s device.
The key is to give your children the freedom to make what they wish of the materials you strew. They may not use them quite as you intended (or for as long as you intended). That’s ok! They may greet the items you strew with joy and enthusiasm, they may turn up their noses, or they may ignore your strewing completely. Try not to take it personally. This is all part of the process.
Make a mental (or physical) note of what engages your children and what doesn’t. This will help you keep an eye out for future strewing materials.
Having a consistent place and time for strewing can be helpful. If your children know where you will leave these little learning invitations, they will check there for new materials. It can be as simple as leaving new books on the coffee table. Jessica Waldock shared on episode 7 of the Homeschool Compass Podcast how she uses strewing to buy herself a few extra moments of quiet in the mornings by strewing something on the kitchen table for her daughter to find when she wakes up.
Here are some of the questions we frequently get about strewing:
How do you plan what to strew?
I try to spend as little time planning and prepping materials as possible. The more time I spend getting a cute activity set up for my kids, the more I know I will resent it if it doesn’t hold their interest for long, and nothing kills an atmosphere of learning like a resentful mother. I do try to make mental (and physical) notes of what my children are interested in, what topics are going to be coming up in our homeschool so I can be on the lookout for potential items to strew.
Do I need to strew something everyday?
Strewing works best when it is flexible and low-stress. You definitely don’t need to strew something new everyday. If your child is really engaging well with a particular item, you can make it available for days or even weeks at a time. And if I go a few days or weeks without strewing something, that just builds anticipation for the next time.
How do you keep the mess from getting out of control?
Having a designated place for strewing can help minimize the clutter. It’s also helpful to set some expectations on how your children interact with materials in your home. You want to give them freedom to explore and be creative, but you don’t want a giant mess! Picking items that are developmentally appropriate is key. Your child may not be ready to use craft supplies that stain or projects with hundreds of small pieces. Be selective in what you strew. This is probably why books are some of my favorite items to strew – no mess!
What are your favorite items to strew for young children?
- Giant coloring pages
- Modeling clay
- Water Wow pads
- Toys that foster imaginative play like dress up clothes, a tea set, or play food
- A balance scale
- Wooden blocks
- Art cards
- Magnetic alphabet, numbers, or animals
What are your favorite items to strew for older children?
- Single player games like Rush Hour and Cat Crimes
- Fandex cards
- Stationery or post cards
- Mindware math puzzle workbooks: Addition Adventures, Subtraction Secrets, and Multiplication Mosaics
- Learning Wrap-Ups
- Mad Libs
- Science kits
- Coloring books (especially on topics that intersect with our current history, science, or literature material)
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