What is This Strewing Thing?


I have been homeschooling my children for twenty nine years and have just discovered the new (well, at least it’s new to me anyway) unschooling concept of strewing.

What is strewing? Most of you young whipper snapper unschoolers today will undoubtedly know more about this than I, but bear with me. From what I understand, Sandra Dodd invented strewing. I remember Sandra Dodd from way back when during my John Holt and Growing Without Schooling days.  I don’t remember ever hearing anything about strewing during that era though.

Apparently Strewing is the technique of leaving toys, manipulatives, articles, books, information, and other such learning materials laying around for the children to discover on their own and then delightfully learn the lesson that each item offers!  Taking advantage of  natural learning experiences such as nature walks, trips to the beach, visits to museums and zoos, and going shopping, and such where children are exposed to and can discover the educational value of the experience is also considered strewing, I believe.

I think strewing is a great idea!  I’ve been strewing for years.  I just didn’t know that what I was doing actually had a name and was a technique! Bethany has been very receptive to strewing.   However, if I didn’t also deliberately teach her, she wouldn’t learn. Because of her disabilities she has always needed more structure than my other kids did.

Strewing has rarely ever worked with any of my other children, though. Somehow they have never been interested in anything that I’ve chosen to strew! That might be because I tend to strew when I am feeling less than confidant that they are learning everything that I think they should know. Then the educational seeds I’m trying to plant becomes coercive education with an agenda, and that’s not unschooling in my humble opinion!

To see strewing in action click here!

What do you think?
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12 thoughts on “What is This Strewing Thing?

  1. I hadn’t heard of strewing, but it does seem like a wonderful technique for younger learners especially. I suppose it’s the casual, homeschooling equivalent of “preparing the environment.” I can see how it could be a challenge to set things up in this way without pushing an agenda, too, however. So much to think about!

    • It is crazy! All the techniques, homeschooling styles, and curriculum available now… It’s mind boggling. We didn’t have so many choices back in the 80’s. We just did what we did!

  2. Pingback: Strewing in Action! |

  3. How fun! I homeschooled my kids for several years – now help with those grandchildren who are in homeschooling programs. I remember John Holt and Growing Without Schooling too! :) We have done the gamut – from unschooling to fairly structured homeschooling – depending on the child and their needs. We’ve also done public AND Christian schooling over the years. Each has been a blessing for different kids at different times. And I loved this “strewing” word. I am using a bit of that now with some of my grandkids and didn’t know it had a good word. Thanks for a fun and interesting visit.

    • Thanks for visiting and the follows, Kaye. We have tried a couple of different schooling options over the years too. Different needs for different kids. Some of our older sons tried part time public or private high school for their junior and senior years.

  4. I love strewing! Generally it works pretty well with my two (7 and 9). I can relate to what you say about how your underlying motives count! My personal challenge is to not make a big deal of a strewed item if it’s not jumped on by the children 😀 I was proud of myself this week – I strewed some rock samples when we were studying the rock cycle. The children were very interested in one sample and correctly identified it as obsidian but ignored the other two so I just quietly put them away for another time (patting myself on the back!)

    Lucinda (visiting via Hammock Tracks)

    • Very cool! Jeremiah and I have been going through a rock identification book. Our NYS Museum has a great collection that we love to visit! Thanks for visiting my blog. I’ll be sure to repay the visit later tonight! Looking forward to see what you’ve got to say!

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