Welcome to my homeschool blog, which offers insights into loving learning, loving your family, loving history, loving homeschooling, and enjoying your life! With your cup of coffee in hand, take a break to laugh with me, to have your heart refreshed, to be reminded of how cool your kids really are, and to consider the amazing adventure of being a homeschool mom. AND, if you are interested in the History Revealed curriculum, be sure to check out my Teaching Tips!

Teaching Tip 9—Pause & Play

Here’s a question for you: How do we engage our kids’ self-motivation?

Do you remember what it was like to walk into a classroom where you were expected to sit still, listen quietly, take notes, read the chapter, and take a test? It seldom actually engaged your interest or invited your ideas, did it?

However, that’s the model. In order to teach 25 children at a time, particularly now that Common Core is the standard in public schools, teachers follow this institutional formula in order to get the job done. But, is it the best way to learn? Does it nurture hungry-to-learn, passionate-to-know students—ones who are self-motivated?

You and I both know the answer is “No, not a chance!”

So, you changed it up. You homeschool your kids (or you are considering the possibilities).  Good for you!!  Here’s the tricky part, though: it’s easy to see what we don’t want to do, but harder to grasp what we can do in order to engage our students and to fire up their self-motivation.

That’s where today’s Teaching Tip fits in. To explain it, I’d like to tell you a short story. . .

In 1999, my family went to New Zealand to attend a YWAM (Youth With a Mission) school. Our teacher one week was a brilliant educator, Rosalie Pedder, who taught us about the different kinds of learners God had created. Her lectures were filled with facts, but her purpose was not to stuff our heads. Rather, it was to engage our hearts and minds. The way she accomplished this was by providing regular opportunities to pause, consider, and play with what we had just heard.

When we allow students to process in ways they enjoy. . .I remember one day in particular. After a thorough description of the Eight Intelligences, she set up eight different stations around the room. Each station had a way of “playing” with what we had just heard, and she encouraged us to go around to each station and do what it said. She set a timer, and off we went, laughing hysterically at some of the crazy things we were attempting. When we had completed our tour around the room, Rosalie sat us down and explained:

“When you hear something for the first time, it’s important to take a break, to reflect on what you heard, to interact with it, even play with it. This ‘recap’ allows your brain the time to process and review what you have heard. That helps you to understand and retain more of this new information, integrating it with what you already know.

“Some of the stations were easy for you, weren’t they? And, the ones you found hard were easy for someone else. When we allow students (young and old) to process in ways they enjoy, it honors the One who created them.”

So, when I revised the History Revealed curriculum, beginning in 2003, I added a process and review section in the Teacher’s Guide—entitled Recap the material with an activity—to each Phase One. Once students have read the articlelistened to the stories on CD, and read the Scriptures, it is time to pause. . . Let them play with what they have just learned using one of the eight intelligence suggestions provided.

NOTE: As homeschoolers, you don’t need to set up all eight stations. Just invite your students to choose which suggestion looks like fun to them. Give them half an hour to do this activity and, then, watch their creative ideas spring to life!

Here is an example, taken from Unit 3—The British Empire & Awakenings— in World Empires, World Missions, World Wars:

Spatial: Either individually or in a small group, create a mind-map of the facts you have learned thus far about the British Empire, including its colonies in Asia, the Americas, the South Pacific, and Africa.

Bodily Kinesthetic: Use as many pipe cleaners as needed to create a representation of Darwin’s theory of evolution, his historic voyage, or the effect his theory had upon the nineteenth century.

Interpersonal: In groups of 3, with one student acting the part of a European colonist in Africa, one acting the part of an African, and one acting the part of a Christian missionary, communicate honestly the struggles each has with one or both of the others.

Musical: In a small group, list four songs, whether secular or Christian, that remind you of some aspect of this Unit.

Linguistic: Imagine and rewrite a different ending to the story of the American Civil War. One option would be to write it from the point of view that a divided America would be the quickest and most sure-fire way to end the American experiment in democracy. Another option would be to write it from the perspective that America was divided into numerous countries, much like Europe.

Math-Logical: Make a prediction of what will occur in Africa if the European nations at the Berlin Congress decide it would not be in their best interests to colonize this continent.

Intrapersonal: In reflecting on the Great Prayer Revival and the stories of God moving among people of many nations and ethnicities, write a journal entry where you ponder what it would mean to you personally, and also to our current culture, should God bring this kind of revival once again.

Naturalist: Choose an Australian animal to represent life in Australia or a New Zealand bird to represent life in New Zealand during this era.  It may represent the indigenous people, the Europeans, daily life in that land or some aspect of being colonized.  Be prepared to explain why this particular animal or bird was chosen.

When we invite our kids to take time to play with what they have been learning (in ways that are fun and interesting to them), it can actually engage their self-motivation. So, go ahead. Give them the opportunity to Pause & Play!


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