This series of posts addresses the rationale behind my Homeschool How-To course How to Make Learning Meaningful, Memorable, and FUN! . . . coming in September. The first Homeschool How-To course How to Teach the Way Your Child Learns is available NOW! 🙂
“Why do I have to do this?”
“When will I ever need to know this?”
Ever heard comments like that at your house? Here’s an idea that can help:
Children easily understand the value and purpose of content learned in context.
The all-too-common complaints about the usefulness of assignments doesn’t happen often when you teach with unit studies.
That’s because your students are already using their new skills in the context of what they’re trying to learn and accomplish.
I shared earlier about the time our 8-year-old daughter took an interest in stars and space and asked a question I couldn’t answer. She wanted to know the difference between a comet and an asteroid (or shooting star).
I could have simply answered her question or pointed to the page in her science textbook where she could read the definitions.
Instead, I suggested that she write a letter to an astronomer who wrote a weekly column in our local newspaper. She thought hard about what, exactly, she wanted to know, then I showed her how to begin with a polite introduction, ask her question, and close with thanks. She wrote a rough draft. Next we talked about paragraphs and punctuation and learned to spell some of the new words she wanted to use. Then she copied her letter in her best handwriting, and I showed her how to address an envelope.
She didn’t complain about the spelling, writing, or grammar she was learning. She needed to know those things so she could send her letter.
The man was very kind. He called to answer her question by phone and to ask permission to use it as the basis for his next column. She was thrilled!
She understood why we roll-played about telephone etiquette. She was glad she knew how to sound calm and mature on the phone even when she was very excited.
When the article came out, she learned about scientific notation, a mathematical skills involving place values, in order to understand how close the comet’s path came to Earth compared to the orbits of the moon and other planets and the far-away stars.
She didn’t even seem to notice that she was learning math and doing a science lesson. 😉
We learned about the scientist Halley’s Comet is named for and looked to see what was happening in history the other times Halley’s Comet has been seen. She learned about the Norman Conquest of 1066 and how the wife of the winning noble, William the Conqueror, embroidered a depiction of Halley’s Comet into the lovely tapestry she made to commemorate the battle. That tapestry is known as the Bayeux Tapestry because it was made in Bayeux on the Normandy coast of France. It’s still on display in a museum there! We read an article about it–one with lots of pictures. Then we looked for England, France, and Bayeux on our globe.
She didn’t question any of the history or geography content involved in the context of our little homeschool adventure. She was having too much fun learning!
Whatever your children are interested in can become a real-life adventure with just a little effort–usually far less effort than it takes to deal with grumpy kids. 😉