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Demystifying Education, Part One

Demystifying Education, Part One

In our quest to educate our children, sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees.

You know what I mean.  There you are, trying to manueuver three children (or 1 or 6 or 12) through math (or lit or science or history), and it doesn’t look anything like school.  Instead, it is much closer to herding cats—which is next to impossible.  Why did it seem so easy when you listened to that speaker, or read about it in that homeschooling book, or watched that neighbor do it? 

Well, here’s the deal.  Math, lit, science, history are all trees.  They are part of your children’s education, but if you don’t know the size and shape of the forest, you might feel lost.  If only you had a map, or someone who knew the forest well enough to help you make it safely through!  Wouldn’t that make all the difference?

With that in mind, can you and I have the talk that I wish someone had had with me when I began my homeschooling journey?  You just might find a whole lot more joy in your homeschooling—enjoying those massive trees—than you knew was possible.

Ready?  Here we go.

Demystifier Number One:

Children are always learning.

They may not be learning what you had hoped, like the date of Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo. It may be that they have just learned how to appear as if they were studying diligently while they enjoy a bout of daydreaming. Or, perhaps, instead of learning that 3×3=9, they learn that math is something to be dreaded because Mom gets upset if they don’t finish on time. But they are learning something, either way.

The truth is that people — young and old — are wired to learn. Learners range from people eagerly scanning the morning newspaper for the latest football scores to a con artist learning a new way to do an online scam. It could be a microbiologist looking for a new virus or a surfer looking for a better beach. Learning happens. We are all constantly learning something we want or need to know.

So, the question is not, “How do I get my kids to learn?” but “How do I get my kids to learn the things that will benefit them?”

8 Kinds of Smart & Learning Styles

Two of the most powerful answers to that question are 8 Kinds of Smart and Learning Styles. When we begin to discover some of the unique ways our children are wired to learn, we can offer educational opportunities that are right up their alley. A basic understanding of the 8 Kinds of Smart and the 4 Learning Styles will become invaluable tools you can use to choose curriculum and adapt the curriculum you already have.

For instance, if you have (as I did) a child who is constantly moving, fidgeting, twisting, jumping, running, etc., and it is time to teach multiplication, then offer that one the opportunity to MOVE while learning 3×3=9. When my son was offered the chance to do jumping jacks while learning multiplication tables, his eyes lit up, and his body literally jumped for joy. He was not only jumping, however, he was learning. In a much shorter amount of time than I would have thought possible, this Body Smart learner memorized his times tables. (Also, check here for the Sensor Learning Style.)

Or, ask yourself, “Do my children love to be around others, play games together, dialogue and discuss?” If so, then provide educational opportunities for these People Smart learners to be with people while they are learning. This might be at a co-op, at a learning party you host, on a field trip, with a neighbor. . .the possibilities are nearly endless, as long as there are people within shouting distance, especially yourself. It can make all the difference for these kinds of learners! (And, check here for the Feeler Learning Style.)

On the other hand, do they prefer books, numbers, orderly schedules, and knowing exactly what is expected of them? If that is the case, your Logic Smart (also called Number Smart) learner will enjoy a well-planned lesson assignment—where they can see from start to finish what will happen and what is expected. This kind of organization will assure them, and can set them free to love learning.  (This also corresponds to aspects of the Thinker Learning Style.)

Or, do you have a child who is always coming up with new ideas about how to get the job done? This is the Intuitor Learning Style, which could show in any of the 8 Kinds of Smart. . . For instance, your child might suddenly decide to put on roller skates in order to take the trash out, or they might figure out how to spell “encyclopedia” by composing their own rhythmic melody. Invite these creative learners to be part of the process of deciding what educational opportunities might fit your family. If State history is on your schedule, your Intuitor student might brainstorm this plan: first, read aloud a library book on the pioneers of your state, and, next, to make a board game called Wagons Ho!—with miniature horses as the game pieces. It might seem impractical to you, but if you set these learners free to intuit their way through learning, the result will be delight and motivation to learn more.

Whatever you do, make it your quest to teach them in such a way that they can love learning.

Remember, stay relational!

Next week, we’ll talk about the 2nd element in demystifying education.


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June 2024
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