When we start homeschooling it is tempting to recreate the traditional classroom in our very home.  This includes the teaching methods, resources, set up, and expectations on our kids.  Setting up school at home is not homeschooling, and maybe if we called ourselves home educators we wouldn’t have this tension.  Over the years I have seen learning happen in various situations and settings and have observed these five aspects:  Receive, Respond, Research, Record, Reflect.

By understanding the different learning processes that go on within each of these aspects has helped me grab hold of learning outside of traditional instruction and classroom modes.

Receive Information:

This is taking in information.  It may be by reading (and for our family reading books was a large part of receiving information) but it may also be by experiencing or participating or by talking to someone.  Whenever our children engage with a concept they are ‘receiving’.   By understanding that ‘receiving’ happens beyond reading, we are able to draw from many life experiences that come our family way – not just rely on books and planned lessons.

We receive information when we see a sunrise, when we go grocery shopping, when we visit with a friend, make gifts and fix a broken toy as well as the times we face formal lessons/studies.

Respond to Information:

Knowledge in itself won’t educate our children; it is as they respond to or interact with knowledge that learning takes place. As our children respond to the learning experiences they are exposed to new thoughts connect with previous understandings and in the process true knowledge is built.

When we respond to new information, new experiences, new knowledge we will

  • Talk about it
  • Ask questions
  • Take notes
  • Be inspired to think and create (Record, but more on that later)

After our children have ‘received information’ we need to engage with it.  There is a collaborative aspect to learning – where we share with each other and sharpen each other and this happens beautifully in a family.  Sometimes though our kids are learning by themselves (and ultimately this is our goal) so to be able to take notes which reflect thinking, which is kind of like having a conversation with yourself.

Research for more Information:

A love of learning will take a child to dig deeper.  This leads us to the third process:  we receive information, respond to it, and then we are motivated to research – to dig deeper.  There are many ways to look for more information – we may:

  • Ask a wiser person
  • Look in a book or online
  • Use other reference resources such as dictionary, atlas, concordances
  • Try an experiment ourselves

Our children need to know that they can find answers to their questions.

Record learning:

When we record our learning, the knowledge becomes our own and it can then be built on, and become a part of our life.  We want to do more than just record our thoughts and discoveries – this can quickly just become busy work, but rather we want to be able to produce something of value that expresses our learning or knowledge.

When we produce something it pulls all the learning that has taken place into one project.  That project may be oral, written or creative, either is a true example of real life productivity.

We do need to be careful to see this aspect of learning broader than worksheets, boarder than writing.  This is the place to allow our children’s uniqueness to shine – as they pursue topics of interest to them, let them produce something that also reflect their abilities and talents.  Joshua and Jessica where very word based learners, and yet there was a difference between how they recorded their learning:  Joshua was just type, black and white whereas Jessica involved colour and learnt to use Publisher and Word to their fullest playing around with fonts, shapes, colour and images.  Naomi and Daniel were more hands on and creative in the arty or making things kind of way.  Lego models, painting, clay, making projects like board games and short films.  Technology beyond Microsoft Office products have become prolific and much more a part of Naomi and Daniels learning experiences.

Reading maketh a full man...

Quote from Francis Bacon

Reflect on their Learning:

Personal reflection is a major part of modern education – this is where a child can reflect, maybe objectively, on their learning process.  They can see that they have learnt (or not), they can see and assess what they have done with their learning.  Though we have not documented our kids reflections (they do document this aspect in schools), it has been a part of our discussions and personal growth.  I want my children to know not only that they have learnt, but they have chosen to do well in their learning.  Often our discussions would revert to a character based discussion:  where they curious, diligent, creative?  Or did they display laziness, boredom and sloppy work?  Did they give it their best effort?  How could they improve (even if they did well, can they do something different next time)?

Lifelong Learning

I encourage you to become familiar with these processes – start to see them in your family life.  You will find these things happening to varying degrees when you learn about God in your Bible Studies, when trying a new skill such as cooking or welding, or when working on changing aspects of our personal life as well as when studying history and science.  I encourage you to find ways to incorporate this sequence outside of your ‘school’ understanding – find applications throughout your children’s whole life.  As you do, you will be encouraging your child to be life long learners – well prepared to be independent learners.

One of the keys that pulled this all together for us was extending a quote from Ruth Beechick.  She said:  Learn to read and then read to learn.  We’ve applied this to every area of our learning.  We learnt the skill and then used that skill for further learning.  We learnt to read, and then we read to learn.  We learnt to write, and then we wrote to learn.  We learnt to research and then we researched to learn.  Once our children have learnt these skills it become an intricate part of learning lifestyle rather than just a skill in and of itself.

When we start homeschooling it is tempting to recreate the traditional classroom in our very home.  This includes the teaching methods, resources, set up, and expectations on our kids.  Setting up school at home is not homeschooling, and maybe if we called ourselves home educators we woudn’t have this tension.  Over the years I have seen learning happen in various situations and settings and have observed these five aspects:  Receive, Respond, Research, Record, Reflect.

By understanding the different learning processes that go on within each of these aspects has helped me grab hold of learning outside of traditional instruction and classroom modes.

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Be Intentional

 Every week I'll email an encouragement to stay intentional and relational in all your family life.  But for now, download your set of reminder posters - posters which I've used over the years to remind me to keep my eyes and heart on what is important.

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