I love the beginning of January because it’s fresh and new—anything is possible! It’s also a great time to ask yourself: Is it time for a change? In this fresh year, we all think about trying something new, making new plans, and, as homeschoolers, we can even think about making a change in the way we teach our kids.
- Here is a question that may help you evaluate whether you need to make a change:
Are my children thriving or am I pushing them through the school day?
If you consistently, day after day, hear comments—"Mom, do we HAVE to do this?" "Mom, I'm bored!" "Mom, why do we have to do school?"—then it’s good to evaluate the materials AND the method you are using.
Evaluate the materials
Do your kids find their books or curriculum interesting? Are these materials appropriately challenging? As Goldilocks knew, it needs to not be too soft, nor too hard, but just right!
If the curriculum is not interesting to them, then it is critical to make changes now—before an entire school year is wasted and before your kids decide that learning is boring/impossible/not for them. Sell, trade, or barter that curriculum if you can, OR go to the library where there are lots of great literature books, science books, history books, and more. Spend the rest of this school year discovering with your kids how INTERESTING books—and learning—can be.
In fact, if your kids learn to love reading and learn to love learning this year, instead of hating the school work, it won’t have been a waste at all! Sometimes, change is a VERY good thing!
Evaluate the method
It may be the educational method that is causing your kids to wilt. An ineffective approach to education can be like having your kids wear clothes that are way too big or way too small for them. It may clothe their bodies, but they’re not comfortable and can’t easily move with them. In the same way, we know that our kids need to learn, but using the approach that you experienced in school probably won’t fit your kids.
When I look back on my own school experience, it felt like my teachers’ approach was to stuff as many facts into my brain with as little meaning or connectedness to each fact as possible. The problem was that, though I could regurgitate them onto a test, I forgot them soon after. . .and I didn’t really know what those facts meant.
Though this is the common approach, what happens if we can find a better way, one that fits how our children actually learn?
A far more effective method for teaching is to salt their oats—which will make them thirsty to learn more. You do this by creating a rich learning atmosphere so the student's interest is piqued. . .where a student's natural curiosity draws them into a subject.
Here are some examples:
- Interview a person whose work uses the subject under consideration. So, for students studying journalism, grammar or creative writing, interview a newspaper reporter.
- Plan a field trip to the closest zoo to make the subject of "zoology" come alive as your students see bears "up close and personal.”
- Engage them in a round table discussion on geography, like "Why do people keep on living beside active volcanoes instead of moving away?"
- Read a fascinating book out loud or watch a movie about what your students are going to study.
Learning is connected to real things. When you introduce learning in this way, your kids will suddenly discover that they want to know more. Curiosity and a thirst to know are HUGE motivators for learning. And that will transform your homeschool!
Making this kind of change in the middle of the year may seem a bit radical, but as your kids find that they LOVE reading and LOVE learning, it will have been one of the best educational decisions you made all year! And if you are looking for better curriculum and better methods of teaching, we can help. Click on the buttons below for more information.