Homeschooling

Teach interest not just requirement

All throughout the school year I look at the basic requirements of what Josiah is supposed to be learning so I can see whether or not he’s on schedule.

We need to remember though that the requirements are just basic and they’re really just a guide. The requirements are a way to keep your thoughts and lesson plans on track and it ensures that the student is progressing in a way that will promote success in the upper grades. The requirements, however, are not strict rules that must be followed without any flexibility.

When we first start homeschooling, sometimes we get so overwhelmed with teaching everything they’re supposed to know about the core subjects that we forget to make things fun. I think sometimes that’s what some teachers in the public school system forget — learning can be fun. It’s good for kids to enjoy learning. Instead of turning learning into something boring and dreaded we should cultivate children’s love for learning while their small so they don’t lose it as they get older.

Instead of simply looking at the requirements and teaching down the list, we need to find out what the child is interested in learning throw that in every now and then. There is nothing quite like seeing a child discover things for the first time about a topic that they’re interested in.

Last year when we were studying weather, we studied tornadoes in detail. Why? First of all it was tornado season and second of all Josiah was interested in tornadoes. We both learned a lot about tornadoes during that unit.

A few months ago Josiah was learning about doing research and had to do an informative writing project. Instead of telling him what to write, I let him choose his own topic. He chose Killer Whales and he excelled at his writing project. Why? Because he was interested in the topic and he wanted to work on it. He wasn’t dreading it like many kids do — like I did during some projects in school.

We studied a lot about Killer Whales when we were learning about mammals. You see, he was still learning about mammals and about research. It’s just we were learning about something he was interested in within the requirements.

The great thing is, it doesn’t matter if you know much about the topic either. You’re never too old to learn. I’ve learned a ton of things about sharks, Killer Whales, and tornadoes — things that I didn’t know before. Josiah has learned how to do research in the library and we’ve sat and read the books together and learned together. We’ve looked at stuff on the internet together and we’ve sat down and watched documentaries on Netflix together (of course I always research/watch the documentary first so I know if it’s appropriate). We do a lot of our interest-based learning at the science museum too because it covers it all. We recently got to study about dinosaurs at the museum during their traveling exhibit (we’re careful about explaining young earth creation — not evolution).

The extra stuff they learn about doesn’t have to have worksheets or tests (I’m not a big fan of either anyway) — it can simply be about learning and discovering. Chances are the topics your child is interested in will be topics that they will eventually need to learn about anyway. That means you will be able to breeze through that topic more quickly or you can go into more depth.

Josiah wrote "mom" in cursive to tell me he was ready to start that kind of writing.

Josiah wrote “mom” in cursive to tell me he was ready to start that kind of writing.

Cursive isn’t typically taught until about 3rd grade (around here they encourage starting in 2nd grade). I’ve already made plans for us to start working on cursive in the fall. However, Josiah came to me a few weeks ago and started trying to write cursive on the board and said he was ready for “that kind of writing”. I haven’t started in on the curriculum that I bought, but I’ve started printing off pre-cursive worksheets for him to work on. Who cares that cursive isn’t typically started until 2nd-3rd grade. He is interested in learning it and wants to do it. So we’re going to start working towards it.

Don’t feel overwhelmed by all the things your child needs to know. In the early year everything is repeated and then built on so your child has plenty of time to learn the necessities. In the mean time, make it fun and make school a little bit more relaxed by learning together. The more kids love learning — the easier it is to teach.

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