I had a discussion with a young homeschooling mom this week about curriculum planning and development. After exploring her daughter’s interests, strengths, struggles, and individual quirks, it became apparent that traditional seat work was not the best method for her. She is active, personable, bright, obsessed with animals and art, and generally delightful! Spelling, language, and science worksheets are of no interest to her, and cause the family school time to be uninspiring and, ultimately, discouraging. She needs art, geography that is associated with the natural world, spelling that involves her whole body, and tons of experiential learning.
One of my favorite parts of the day was when Mom looked at me, and expressed that what she was looking for (without realizing it) was permission to allow her daughter to be herself, and throw away the mold!
While I am NOT a fan of allowing children to lead out in their education, nor do I advocate beginning the school year without a plan, I do wonder how much more we would all learn if we accepted who we (and our children) are, how we learn, and focused on our strengths rather than the areas which need work. Math, science, language arts, geography, manners, etc. need to be taught, and even the least favorite subjects are required, but if we spent a bit more time looking around for methods that effectively teach, reinforce, and encourage our children, their love for learning would increase, and they would retain more!
Here are just a few ideas to keep it fun!
- Allow them to make lists, diagrams, or charts rather than writing a paper with complete paragraphs if they are inclined to do so.
- Use role play, games, and field trips more often, in order to make connections that might otherwise be missed.
- Use music or art media to express and explore what you are learning. Memorize or write a song, or create a logo which applies to the unit you just finished. Construct a game or map. If they can recreate it, they have learned it.
- Use more manipulatives, and oral answers for math time-especially for the young ones.
- Allow more movement. Finger-spell. Run laps while you drill. Get out the Legos or crayons for quiet activity while someone else reads aloud. Our magnificent bodies were created to MOVE. Don’t just read or write about things…DO them.
- Collections are wonderful. Learn to classify, organize, label, display, and enjoy things.
- Find things to write that matter. Family newsletters, journals, research papers, interviews with those who have experience in what you are studying, etc.
- Volunteer. Get involved. Make a difference. Connect with those around you.
Remember, we don’t generally live in “model homes” or have a “model schoolroom.” That’s okay. Fill your homes with other models…love, activity and exploration, creative expression, lively discussion, and laughter. Focus on the gifts your children have and are. They will surprise you with what they can become.