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How do you preserve the love for learning in your school?


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I've read the phrase "preserve the love for learning" many times recently. I would love to know how you do this. My kids are seeing the end of summer creep up on them, and they are not looking forward to the schedule and work of a new school year.

 

I will have kids in grades 4, 7, and 9 this coming year. We start each school year with breakfast at Cracker Barrel the first day of school. I also try to slant school toward the ways my children learn best. I try to allow for some interest-based learning as well, but some things just have to get done whether they enjoy it or not.

 

How do you make the beginning of school a positive experience and preserve the love of learning on a long term basis? Specific examples would be very helpful.

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I have not yet managed to come up with a way to get "love of learning" overcome "love of goofing off and playing." :glare:

 

I think it may to some extent be a personality issue. I did actually love learning as a child. It was innate.

 

The sad thing is that for a young child, learning is fun. Learning happens through natural play. Then as that child enters school, all the requirements seem to take the fun right out of school.

 

My kids are creative and bright, and they explore/learn on their own during the summer... unstructured learning, but the structure of school and the duration of our school day is draining. We usually start around 8 AM, but we work until the schedule for the day is finished. That might be at 3 PM, or it could be later... especially for the older two whose courses are heavier and more time consuming.

 

I've always told my children that making school "fun" is not my responsibility-although I do my best to make it a pleasant experience. They have to bring something to the table as well. They have to be able to enjoy the work of their hands.... a personal decision to find something fun in the work that they HAVE to do.

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I think much of what you have to start with has to do with personality.

 

Promoting a love of learning is very important to our homeschool so these are the things I do to try to encourage that.

 

 

  • Always talk positively about school as something interesting and exciting.
  • Approach subjects in a way that suits the child. For my kids this means I often put together my own things rather than just purchase a curriculum. It also means I cannot combine my kids much since they are very different learners.
  • Have longer school days so we have plenty of time for electives, in depth study, and a smaller percentage of the day focused on undesirable parts of school.
  • I don't allow whining to continue and I try to refocus my children on how privileged they are to be able to get an education.
  • Get a child's input before I decide on curriculum or books.
  • As a teacher I need to be excited about the subject or the curriculum so I can pass that on to my child. I rarely use anything I find dull or boring. I enjoy learning so I avoid approaching a subject in any manner I find uninteresting.

 

Edited by Wehomeschool
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I think much of what you have to start with has to do with personality.

 

Promoting a love of learning is very important to our homeschool so these are the things I do to try to encourage that.

 

  • Always talk positively about school as something interesting and exciting.
  • Approach subjects in a way that suits the child. For my kids this means I often put together my own things rather than just purchase a curriculum. It also means I cannot combine my kids much since they are very different learners.
  • Have longer school days so we have plenty of time for electives, in depth study, and a smaller percentage of the day focused on undesirable parts of school.
  • I don't allow whining to continue and I try to refocus my children on how privileged they are to be able to get an education.
  • Get a child's input before I decide on curriculum or books.
  • As a teacher I need to be excited about the subject or the curriculum so I can pass that on to my child. I rarely use anything I find dull or boring. I enjoy learning so I avoid approaching a subject in any manner I find uninteresting.

 

 

These are fantastic, specific ideas. Thank you for sharing them.

 

I can remember when my children were the ages of yours now. When mine were all elementary aged, school was easier to do. That is a huge plus, and if you can hook them into loving to learn then, you have won a huge battle.

 

As students transition into logic stage and eventually 9th grade and upper high school, they have to have that inward motivation to enjoy their school work.... even subjects they find challenging. This is where we are. It's a hump in the road so to speak that they are crossing.

 

The challenge becomes inspiring a love of learning when school isn't fun. Of course, in these years, they are figuring out what they truly enjoy and what their giftings are. This can be the hook that they need to avoid discouragement, but until they see the value in self-discipline and intrinsic motivation, they will probably dread the sure beginning of yet another school year.

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I don't really know what the phrase 'love of learning' means. I hear it thrown around a lot, but never seem to really figure out what it is.

 

Mostly I hear it used by unschoolers who don't like the way my family approaches learning. I often get told that I will 'kill their love of learning' using classical methods or just doing lessons on a regular basis. Or, I am in the room and they don't know how we do lessons in our house, and they will be talking about those crazy people who 'make' their kids do school every day and kill their kids love of learning.

 

It evokes a permanent positive attitude regarding school work and I don't think that is feasible. Some days you just don't wanna. For some it seems to mean that lessons must be presented in the most entertaining way possible. I don't see the need for that.

 

So, I guess I need a sort of a definition before I can tell you if it is something I even worry about.

 

If it is the fact that my kids see the value of their education and agree to work hard even on days they aren't feeling the school love, then I guess we have it. If it means they beg to do school and come to table with smiles every single time, then no, we don't have it.

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I design courses in collaboration w/my kids. That does not mean I make them fun. (fun is pretty much a non-factor in our homeschool once they are out of primary grades.) However, I do work hard on making courses interesting and meaningful w/o busy work.

 

For example, this summer my rising 8th grader and I selected Wind in the Willows to design a course around. In researching we found out that Kenneth Grahame's ds published a monthly magazine for friends and family. So, dd and I decided to incorporate that idea into our homeschool. Our 20 yos is a budding artist so he is going to design the monthly covers. The magazine will include essays, artist and composer studies (which my 1st, 5th, and 8th graders will be doing), a novel in monthly chpt installations, etc. We are going to send them out to certain family members.

 

For my 11th grader who wants to major in astrophysics, we decided to design a course on the philosophy of science and religion. Another course we designed is focusing mostly on the works of CS Lewis. He is designing his own dark matter independent study and has to turn in his course syllabus/plans to me in 2 weeks.

 

My kids do have to do hard work and much of it is in the "grunt work" cateogory. But, they do have ownership over much of the focus and those selections are made after careful consideration and I think it does keep them inspired even through some of the drudgery.

 

HTH

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This is something we struggle with. I realized late this year that History Odyssey had sucked the fun out of history and made it rote work that was directed at the student with very little input needed from me. We switched from their program to task cards so I could figure out what worked/didn't, and we are moving to a unit study program this year that will integrate more hands on in his work.

 

In early grades it was easy. The question was always "how else can I present this material?" and I'd find us out in the woods with a microscope or running around the living room tagging parts of speech. As they get older, the fun seems to dry up. It takes more work to find a way to spark an interest in square roots and the Tudor family. So much is written to the student that it's easy to lose the connection that we used to have. I have to challenge myself to rise up to meet him - he's too old to spend his days playing with blocks and puzzles. This morning we watched Elizabeth - The Golden Years together and it sparked quite a debate. Was it real? How much of it? What does it mean, based on a true story? How do we know that's how the events went? If I did dishes every day, and you grew up to tell your kids about your childhood, you could easily say I did nothing because there's no evidence to the contrary. On the flip, it could easily be said I did them always, because there's no pictures, written word, or video to the contrary. What is history?? Is it what is written or what is omitted or both?

 

Challenging him intellectually seems to spark his interest more. It's not enough to read or write about it. He has to figure it out for himself and feel like he conquered it.

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I'm guilty of often throwing around the phrase "love of learning" and "lifelong learners". Love of learning doesn't mean that I expect everything to be fun, with my kids happily doing math problems or writing assignments. Nor does it mean I make games for everything or bend over backwards to make things fun. As 8 Fills the Heart puts it, there is lots of "grunt work" to be had, which in our case was the skills part of school -- math and writing, foreign languages and grammar. It is a rare young mind that finds a love in that kind of learning.

 

I also found that there were periods where my kids found anything and everything "boring, stupid, pointless and a waste of time". The second I tried to turn their interest into something resembling school they would shut down. During these spells I simply had to do "git 'er done" school work -- assignments, checklists and an attitude of "life ain't fair and mom don't care". (I learned that phrase on these boards. :D)

 

Love of learning is what my dh and I model because it is how we live our lives. It means being curious about the world in an engaged rather than passive manner. We read, watch history and science shows, go on guided tours when we are on vacation, go to museums and read all the text next to the exhibits. And we discuss everything we see and do, debating the whys and hows, the pros and cons. We treat pop culture the same way, comparing notes on favorite movies and tv shows.

 

How did that look in our homeschool? I always had a list of books for a specific topic or historical period for a school year, with a list of ideas for projects or places to visit. I'd start the school year with it, but let it go if an interest led us down a rabbit trail. I would always return to the lists, but not stress if we didn't get to everything on it. It was never something that had to be completed, in contrast to the way I felt a math program should be, for instance. Writing, by the way, was always tied in with this as I'd have them do copy work or narrations from what we were reading.

 

Day by day it meant that we did the grunt work first. Math and other work book stuff was done first, then most of the rest of the day was reading or doing projects, sometimes assigned, sometimes not. Writing, I have to confess, was not daily, but at the very least weekly, and it was something that by the logic/middle school stage they did on their own time. If they chose to write at night, so be it. It just had to be done.

 

I was far more formal in high school, but similar to what 8 Fills the Hear describes, courses were often tailored around their interests. Both kids have done very well in college classes, by the way. They are engaged learners and rather perplexed by their classmates who are the opposite.

 

One final thought. In my mind, our school day only encompassed the grunt work, which only took a few hours. Everything else really was school, too, but I never called it that because I dislike the mindset that learning ONLY happens during school. My kids figured out pretty quickly that our readings, projects and outings were designed to be educational and really resisted it during that "boring, stupid and pointless" phase. It was during those times that "real school" encompassed more, and meant a longer "school day".

 

Hmmm. I'm very long winded -- does that explain "love of learning" any better???

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I'm seeing a theme in the responses here. There is necessary grunt work that is unavoidable. But then as the student get older, school can be tailored to include subject matter that is more relevant: breathing room! :001_smile:

 

The student still has to be willing to work hard, but there is a hook to hold his interest. This thought is helpful.

 

Honestly, I have a curriculum for each subject: math, science, grammar/lit/comp/spelling (depending on the grade/age of the student), history, and foreign language that my kids work on each day. It works out to be approximately 60-90 minutes for each class (also depending on the grade/age of the student). I realize this may contribute to my kids not looking forward to school, but this keeps us on a schedule/routine. I would feel lost to take a more unschooling approach.

 

 

If your high school student designs a course, is the course usually an elective? It seems that way, it would be easier to meet high school graduation/ college admissions requirements.

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So -- this is a very rambly way of saying that thinking in terms of engagement rather than "fun" might be productive; that younger kids like to be active and DO as a form of learning; and that engagement can take different forms at different stages for different kids.

 

:iagree: Engagement is what is important. Engagement builds interest and a desire to learn more. Fun without engagement is just enjoyment that doesn't go any farther than the fun activity. Engagement doesn't have to be fun. Sometimes it is just a way to tackle a subject in a way that a child would find most interesting.

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I don't really know what the phrase 'love of learning' means. I hear it thrown around a lot, but never seem to really figure out what it is.

 

Mostly I hear it used by unschoolers who don't like the way my family approaches learning. I often get told that I will 'kill their love of learning' using classical methods or just doing lessons on a regular basis. Or, I am in the room and they don't know how we do lessons in our house, and they will be talking about those crazy people who 'make' their kids do school every day and kill their kids love of learning.

 

It evokes a permanent positive attitude regarding school work and I don't think that is feasible. Some days you just don't wanna. For some it seems to mean that lessons must be presented in the most entertaining way possible. I don't see the need for that.

 

So, I guess I need a sort of a definition before I can tell you if it is something I even worry about.

 

If it is the fact that my kids see the value of their education and agree to work hard even on days they aren't feeling the school love, then I guess we have it. If it means they beg to do school and come to table with smiles every single time, then no, we don't have it.

 

I design courses in collaboration w/my kids. That does not mean I make them fun. (fun is pretty much a non-factor in our homeschool once they are out of primary grades.) However, I do work hard on making courses interesting and meaningful w/o busy work.

 

For example, this summer my rising 8th grader and I selected Wind in the Willows to design a course around. In researching we found out that Kenneth Grahame's ds published a monthly magazine for friends and family. So, dd and I decided to incorporate that idea into our homeschool. Our 20 yos is a budding artist so he is going to design the monthly covers. The magazine will include essays, artist and composer studies (which my 1st, 5th, and 8th graders will be doing), a novel in monthly chpt installations, etc. We are going to send them out to certain family members.

 

For my 11th grader who wants to major in astrophysics, we decided to design a course on the philosophy of science and religion. Another course we designed is focusing mostly on the works of CS Lewis. He is designing his own dark matter independent study and has to turn in his course syllabus/plans to me in 2 weeks.

 

My kids do have to do hard work and much of it is in the "grunt work" cateogory. But, they do have ownership over much of the focus and those selections are made after careful consideration and I think it does keep them inspired even through some of the drudgery.

 

HTH

:iagree::iagree::iagree:

 

I've been thinking about this lately. When we say "love of learning", what kind of learning are we talking about? Reading? Writing? Hands-on? Social learning (ie. group work)? I'm also one of those people who just seemed to inherently love learning as a child but I loved a specific kind of learning - namely, reading and thinking about topics. I really don't like hands-on learning that much (says the science major (looking sheepish...)) and I abhor group work. :D If we expect kids to "love learning" by being over the moon at all different types of learning, I think we expect too much - personality has to come in to play.

 

Having said that, I'm also convinced that you can't make someone have a "lifelong love of (a specific kind of) learning" anymore than you can make someone have a "lifelong love of (a specific kind of) sports" or a "lifelong love of (a specific kind of) housework". :D I think we tend to "love" what comes easily to us and what comes easily to us is due to at least half genetic predisposition. I think it then tends to self-promote - if reading came easily to me as a child, I'd do it more often, so I'd get more practice, so it came even more easily, etc., etc.

 

The goal we work towards is finding value and satisfaction in everything we do. If my dd (or myself - trust me, I've still got a long way to go on this :001_smile:) are doing something we "like" (probably because we happen to be predisposed to be good at it), it's easy to find satisfaction and to want to keep doing it. The truly valuable lesson in life comes from finding the satisfaction and value in things we don't "like" and aren't inherently good at and to keep doing them anyway. :001_smile:

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I think the word "fun" is often misleading and can tangle up the issue; I have grown to prefer the idea that kids need to be deeply "engaged" in their learning.

 

This can take many forms. I was inspired years ago by a section in John Goodlad's classic book A Place Called School. He interviewed hundreds of middle school kids about their attitudes toward education, and then asked them what they would LIKE to be doing to learn instead of sitting at their desks all day long. They came up with a long list of activities: drawing, building, designing, experimenting, interviewing, job shadowing, playing music, etc. They wanted to learn by DOING, not by being told, reading, and writing day in and day out, across the curriculum.

 

When I taught at a co-op for several years I had the chance to design the classes any way I wanted to, so I went for social studies and science (my two classes) that were grounded in activities -- everything from making a homemade shake table and designing Lego buildings to withstand shaking to making mummies to field trips at local geologic sites -- with some group reading and lots of discussion. The kids kept science notebooks and they made lots of poster-board projects with little written narratives about the objects or projects or experiments or field trips.

 

The classroom was a noisy, energetic, enthusiastic place. We always, always went over time and the kids never wanted to stop. But it required a lot from me: particularly, tolerance of that noise and mess (the kids did get really good at cleaning up though), lots of stray materials always hanging around and projects sitting out to dry or be admired or used, lots of rabbit trails, discussions that didn't always go in the direction I'd intended. The materials-gathering took up a huge amount of time. The bonus was that once the kids got set up, the classes virtually ran themselves, and the enthusiasm level was pretty amazing.

 

Engagement takes different forms with different kids and changes as they grow. The hands-on, activities-based things I did with dd and the co-op in late elementary morphed into dd's resistance, in junior high, to those kinds of things. For instance, dd's life-long fascination with drama has morphed over the years from the early plays she made up and produced, starring her dolls or stuffed animals, to acting classes and performing in productions, to seeing classic and off-beat local theater and researching its history. At each stage she was deeply engaged; but the form that engagement took varied.

 

Now, in high school, we do something similar to what Jennifer described. We do a minimal formal school day with math, Latin, science, and history. Only the Latin is purely textbook/workbook based; everything else uses mixed resources, including documentaries and Teaching Company lectures. We're discussion heavy and writing light (dd is a fine writer).

 

The rest of the time, dd pursues her interests: she reads classic literature, follows writers' blogs, researches theater topics, reads non-textbook math literature, plays around in the New York Times online, tries out new drawing techniques, collects quotations, watches BBC shows, listens to podcasts and radio shows, and in general takes in tremendous amounts of material in an interdisciplinary, independent way. I discuss everything with her but never interfere; as Jennifer says, when I try to turn these interests into something more conventionally "educational" or academic, she runs away and a great opportunity is lost. She learns FAR more on her own in these areas than she would if I tried to "teach" her.

 

So -- this is a very rambly way of saying that thinking in terms of engagement rather than "fun" might be productive; that younger kids like to be active and DO as a form of learning; and that engagement can take different forms at different stages for different kids.

 

I love this. But what if you have a variety of grades? It seems like the best way to make sure we've covered appropriate skills/content is to have a way to check the box. (Which is directly opposite what you are suggesting.) I'll have from 4th - 9th grades next year, and each kid will need my focused time and attention. I will need to cater to my youngest with projects while helping my 7th grader learn how to mature in studying while interacting with my 9th grader in a more rhetorical way. Calgon, take me away!!!:D

 

Maybe I can find a way to incorporate your ideas for our school. I see how relaxing the subjects can be to allow for flexibility and that would engage my students more.

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I love this. But what if you have a variety of grades? It seems like the best way to make sure we've covered appropriate skills/content is to have a way to check the box. (Which is directly opposite what you are suggesting.) I'll have from 4th - 9th grades next year, and each kid will need my focused time and attention. I will need to cater to my youngest with projects while helping my 7th grader learn how to mature in studying while interacting with my 9th grader in a more rhetorical way. Calgon, take me away!!!:D

 

Maybe I can find a way to incorporate your ideas for our school. I see how relaxing the subjects can be to allow for flexibility and that would engage my students more.

 

We do not do projects or hands-on type activities. Our homeschool is very traditional in output (except the whats behind the output.) For example, essays, reports, research, etc are still the foundation of their work. They don't write book reports (non-existant in the higher ed, so I classify them as busy work.) The monthly magazine will be more of a compilation of their normal work w/publication/design as an extra. ;) But projects in general.......I don't have enough hrs in the day.

 

The class ds is designing will be a science credit. However, he has already taken courses that are topic related (high school physics and 2 university level astronomy courses and will be dual-enrolled in cal physics simultaneously w/his dark matter study.)

 

But, designing courses w/me is often for basic high school coursework. (the Lewis study will be his lit for 11th grade.)

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I love a lot of the points made in this thread. . . modeling an active interest in life around you. . . focusing on "engagement" rather than "fun" in your schoolwork, etc.

 

One thing I'm going to try this year is separating content and skills a little more. Content has so much potential for enjoyment, but skills are just, as others pointed out, "grunt work." Vitally important, but not as fun. The last few years I used a CM-inspired program that meshed skills and content in every subject. (And there were lots of them!) It provided much wonderful writing practice but DS grew more and more resentful toward learning in general because of the association. A lightbulb came on for me as I read an old post by an ex-scientist who was writing about teaching science on these boards. When asked what kind of output she required from her students, she stated that she did not believe in making students write or notebook for science. She'd seen it kill the love of science over and over.

 

I still plan to have daily writing in our schoolday, and we may use our content material, but it will be limited to the LA block and to only one project. I want DS to lose himself in the next chapter of history without worrying about the fact that he will have to write something every time he reads something.

 

Maybe this is a "duh" point for most but coming from CM it is an epiphany.

 

I realize this may need to change for high school but I'm liking the sound of it for earlier grades.

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One way I've found helpful to get my dc more engaged is to "farm out" the subjects I don't love myself. I realize that's not feasable for a lot of mums, but there might be ways to trade with others.

We have a fair share of visitors and I always try to find out what makes them tick and then see if they can't do some of that with our kids. So our last visitor loved composing music and he was happy to do lots of music theory with all 3 of mine. He's also a chemistry major and did a great introduction to the periodic table with my girls.

A biggie is dh doing maths with the older ones. I fear they would hate the subject if I would have to fight my way through it with them.

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  • Always talk positively about school as something interesting and exciting.

     

  • e plenty of time for electives, in depth study,

     

  • Get a child's input before I decide on curriculum or books.

     

 

 

I do a mini planning meeting with them at a breakfast place and discuss independent project ideas and electives for the year. that way they feel involved in some of the stuff (of course we have to do handwriting and math regardless of how they feel about it)

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If it is the fact that my kids see the value of their education and agree to work hard even on days they aren't feeling the school love, then I guess we have it. If it means they beg to do school and come to table with smiles every single time, then no, we don't have it.

 

LOL

 

This is something we struggle with. I realized late this year that History Odyssey had sucked the fun out of history and made it rote work that was directed at the student with very little input needed from me.

 

We had the same experience with History Odyssey. We're using a different program and approach this year--what a difference!

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Duct Tape. The answer to everything is duct tape.

 

Need to engage your kids, duct tape them to you.

 

Need smiles from your kids, duct tape them on their faces (just make sure they can breathe)

 

Ok, I think I need to go to sleep... and have hubby hide the duct tape.

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:iagree: Engagement is what is important. Engagement builds interest and a desire to learn more. Fun without engagement is just enjoyment that doesn't go any farther than the fun activity. Engagement doesn't have to be fun. Sometimes it is just a way to tackle a subject in a way that a child would find most interesting.

 

I agree completely. I find that engagement is my primary criterion for judging curricula, books, activities - will this engage my dd? B/c w/o engagement, she won't learn from it. She will go through the motions with minimal foot-dragging - she's a pleaser - but she won't retain anything.

 

What is interesting is that the material doesn't have to be fun, but it has to be engaging - it has to spark an interest, often by making a connection to something else we've read, learned, or watched. It has to engage *me*too, or I don't force it on her - if my eyes roll back in boredom when I look at a book, that book goes out the door. Even if it is a subject that is "get 'er done" - there is always a more engaging way to approach it. Or, at least so far, in my admittedly unvast experience! :D

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In our house school and learning are not synonymous. Dd would readily say she doesn't like SCHOOL, but she actually loves LEARNING. She has Spielvogel, Kane, the BJU 10 world history, and one more text on her bedside right now because she's comparing them to decide how she wants to do her studies this fall. :lol:

 

I'm going a lot farther than we've gone in prior years to try to make this work. Really that's not true though. There were things we did when she was little that I lost sight of as she got older. I got sucked into some warp of "gotta be" and "gotta do" and the expectations of the age. What we're really doing this coming year is reclaiming what we know works. You might have things like that where sit and reflect and realize you KNOW how they are most engaged, most joyful, most into their work but that you walked away from that to pursue somebody's list of ought to's. Sometimes those lists are wise but should be done another way or another time, kwim?

 

I find it a constant challenge to create a structure that makes it easy for me to plan and quantify and know where we're going but still do things that keep dd engaged. Sometimes for us structure is old plans I made months before using stuff she has outgrown, lol. It's really pathetic. However I could totally see that as an issue for you, where you have multiple kids and might admire and idealize certain things but not be sure how to make it practical and consistently done. So then you put your energy into thinking through what kind of STRUCTURE (game plan, year plan, planner method, ipod/ipad app, checklist, whatever) helps you implement your values and lets you know you're on track. There's freedom and confidence in that structure, if that makes sense.

 

Doodles taught me something really important recently. She said "give your kid more freedom in his strengths." I don't know why I never saw it that way. I thought I had to do more MYSELF, like teach her more, require more. It's actually different. Now I realize on her STRENGTHS I can schedule less and buffet more. I only need to fully structure her weak points, duh. So our plan for history looks something like this:

 

3-4 weeks each on a list of cultures/regions, each with a book basket and pile of suggested (bordering on required) textbook reading, a page of student accountability and discussion questions, some charts to spur synthesis, and freedom to pursue rabbit trails.

 

But that suits her. That will give her joy. And her plans for grammar look like this:

 

day 1, lesson 1, day 2, lesson 2 :lol:

 

No love lost there, so it's get in and get 'er done. I make it as peppy and fun as I can, but I have no illusions, lol.

 

Also I'm finding at this age they really, really love having lots of things going, things out of the house, things they look forward to. The whole too much, too little thing is such a balance. But when they have something they're looking forward to, the teenage brain so much more readily gets in gear and gets it going. :lol: I don't think I should be one bit of guilt for my kid not liking something if the real issue is teenage hormones, kwim? They like something and the next day proclaim they hate it. What a mess. At some point you just do your best and move on. But when the overall tenor is positive, that helps.

 

I don't really give a rip if she LIKES school or not. But I do give a rip that she covers the skills she needs. Those are hard for her and not always fun. And it does matter to me that I get the clue phone on how she learns and GET OUT OF THE WAY so she can enjoy the things she does enjoy. That's all I'm trying to do at this stage, that and keep the peace. 3+13 = squabbles, mercy.

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I love a lot of the points made in this thread. . . modeling an active interest in life around you. . . focusing on "engagement" rather than "fun" in your schoolwork, etc.

 

One thing I'm going to try this year is separating content and skills a little more. Content has so much potential for enjoyment, but skills are just, as others pointed out, "grunt work." Vitally important, but not as fun. The last few years I used a CM-inspired program that meshed skills and content in every subject. (And there were lots of them!) It provided much wonderful writing practice but DS grew more and more resentful toward learning in general because of the association. A lightbulb came on for me as I read an old post by an ex-scientist who was writing about teaching science on these boards. When asked what kind of output she required from her students, she stated that she did not believe in making students write or notebook for science. She'd seen it kill the love of science over and over.

 

I still plan to have daily writing in our schoolday, and we may use our content material, but it will be limited to the LA block and to only one project. I want DS to lose himself in the next chapter of history without worrying about the fact that he will have to write something every time he reads something.

 

Maybe this is a "duh" point for most but coming from CM it is an epiphany.

 

I realize this may need to change for high school but I'm liking the sound of it for earlier grades.

 

This is so interesting. I've been mulling this over too, b/c I don't have dd do much writing in the content areas of science/history/literature - we read and have wonderful discussions, look for things from different points of view and compare & contrast, look for bias, look for the story behind the story - but I don't assign a lot of traditional writing/outlining in these content areas. I've been feeling slightly guilty about that, but maybe I am right after all! ;)

 

My thought is that we have WWS that is focused heavily on the skills of writing, inlcuding writing about science and history. So focus heavily on the skill during writing time, and enjoy engaging with the content during subject time? Doesn't sound so bad . . .

Edited by rroberts707
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Quoted from Oh Elizabeth:

 

I find it a constant challenge to create a structure that makes it easy for me to plan and quantify and know where we're going but still do things that keep dd engaged. Sometimes for us structure is old plans I made months before using stuff she has outgrown, lol. It's really pathetic. However I could totally see that as an issue for you, where you have multiple kids and might admire and idealize certain things but not be sure how to make it practical and consistently done. So then you put your energy into thinking through what kind of STRUCTURE (game plan, year plan, planner method, ipod/ipad app, checklist, whatever) helps you implement your values and lets you know you're on track. There's freedom and confidence in that structure, if that makes sense.

 

Doodles taught me something really important recently. She said "give your kid more freedom in his strengths." I don't know why I never saw it that way. I thought I had to do more MYSELF, like teach her more, require more. It's actually different. Now I realize on her STRENGTHS I can schedule less and buffet more. I only need to fully structure her weak points, duh.

 

 

 

Yes! Elizabeth, I find a lot of understanding and compassion in your comments. As my children are getting older, I'm seeing the benefit of engagement (the key term in this thread :) ) I think I might squelch engagement because I find a lot of comfort in box-checking. Too much of that can extinguish the love of learning.

 

I already have everything planned (more or less) for the year...written in my planner for the entire year! (A lot of what we'll be doing is just do the next lesson.) It might feel a little strange allowing for bunny trails if that takes us off the schedule, but I guess I need to be stretched like this.

 

Thanks for your comments!

Edited by Sweet Home Alabama
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Duct Tape. The answer to everything is duct tape.

 

Need to engage your kids, duct tape them to you.

 

Need smiles from your kids, duct tape them on their faces (just make sure they can breathe)

 

Ok, I think I need to go to sleep... and have hubby hide the duct tape.

 

:lol: and :iagree:

Seriously, though, I have trouble finding what will engage my almost 12yo dd. She's never really been a book-learner, want to know more kinda kid about anything. But I will say that DUCT TAPE has been very engaging for her, lol. Give her a silver roll and she's happy. Give her those neat colors and patterns and she's super engaged. Maybe I can have her duct tape something from history (joking). I'm usually really good about eeking out what someone likes and then giving them the resources they need to explore further (and then get out of the way, like OhE said). My 1st dd has been a big challenge. Back in our early reading days, it might take me 100 library books to find that 1 book that got her excited. I keep trying. This year, I plan to load her up with cooking and art projects (trying to feed her interests), and then I have a bunch of get it done subjects.

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You can still use a scope and sequence, or the table of contents in a textbook; you can still check the boxes; and you can still do conventional work. But you can use these things differently.

 

It does take time; but so does researching curriculum, teaching lessons, preparing materials, etc. You change the KIND of thing that takes up most of your time.

 

And you don't have to jump in and do this across the board! Pick a subject that your child really seems to love, will pursue at least partially independently, and begin there.

 

 

Thank you so much for these ideas! I especially appreciate trying one subject as a starting point: much more doable than trying to tackle everything in this way! :001_smile:

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Thank you so much for these ideas! I especially appreciate trying one subject as a starting point: much more doable than trying to tackle everything in this way! :001_smile:

 

Yup, do it with just one thing. Or like Janice in NJ says, use your structured curriculum as this road. You decide when you get off and explore the countryside and when you get back on it.

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You might be amazed, but... several years back when we went to regular Family Days at a local contemporary art museum, there was a huge exhibit by a guy who worked entirely with tape: painter's tape, duct tape, masking tape of all colors. He had some gigantic works, as in ten feet by ten feet, made entirely of tape. We toured the exhibit and then kids made their own tape art work.

 

Oh mercy, that would go over huge here in a couple years. Talk about male validation. :lol:

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Lots of down time/free time. Build this into your life, and place value on it so that your kids know they will have time for uninterrupted /unstructured/uncriticized/unscrutinized exploration of their interests, no matter how short or long term. Don't hijack their explorations and try to turn them into something schoolish. Let go of your fear that daydreaming is wasted time.

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Duct Tape. The answer to everything is duct tape.

 

Need to engage your kids, duct tape them to you.

 

Need smiles from your kids, duct tape them on their faces (just make sure they can breathe)

 

Ok, I think I need to go to sleep... and have hubby hide the duct tape.

 

:lol::lol:

 

:lol: and :iagree:

Seriously, though, I have trouble finding what will engage my almost 12yo dd. She's never really been a book-learner, want to know more kinda kid about anything. But I will say that DUCT TAPE has been very engaging for her, lol. Give her a silver roll and she's happy. Give her those neat colors and patterns and she's super engaged. Maybe I can have her duct tape something from history (joking). I'm usually really good about eeking out what someone likes and then giving them the resources they need to explore further (and then get out of the way, like OhE said). My 1st dd has been a big challenge. Back in our early reading days, it might take me 100 library books to find that 1 book that got her excited. I keep trying. This year, I plan to load her up with cooking and art projects (trying to feed her interests), and then I have a bunch of get it done subjects.

 

I went to Michaels with my dd10 yesterday and she nearly swooned when she saw they had multiple colors and patterns of duct tape. She has all kinds of grand plans for duct tape creations. Maybe I should direct those into history projects too. ;)

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I can't help but :iagree: to most of what previous posters have shared.

 

I've learned over the years (and yes, it took years for me to sort all of this out...fear wouldn't let me let go of convention...:001_smile:) that there are several things I think that contributed towards a love of learning.

 

I tried to force my older dd when she was around 11-12 years old to follow the idea of required reading...the idea around here that you give your dc a list of books and a specific time of day to read and expect them to read....oh, what a bad idea for my dd this was!:001_smile: I was so sure that it was a discipline issue because everyone else around us (including people we knew well IRL) could do this. But, in the end, I realized that this is not how my dd works and the problem was with me and my expectations and not with her. Once I realized that she needed to feel less pressure and gave her a lot more freedom, she then really took off in her love of reading and has never looked back. She just recently finished David Copperfield (a big book) along with many others and is now nearly done with Bleak House (another big book) and Lorna Doone as well. All of this she reads completely independently and as her choice. We've come a long way from the 11 year old. She's my late bloomer and I just needed to give her more time.

 

We also as a family read together and watch many movies and documentaries together in our fun, free time. I think that constantly going to the library and checking out these dvds and sharing them together really adds to an overall "this is so fascinating" and "we learn everyday" type approach. Yesterday, my dh sat down at the table and let my younger dd teach him some French. They had a lot of fun with it, and my older dd came in and got involved too, and both girls unknowingly just reviewed the chapter that we had just finished. :D

 

Like previous posters, I work hard to create lessons that incorporate their interests. We too have our skill work (my older dd only tolerates math and science) and we just keep working at it. But, literature, history, geography, nature study, art, music and even some aspects of science can be great subjects for allowing some flexibility. Even with skill subjects like grammar, math and latin, I do try to keep their interests in mind...at least a little...:lol:

So, my dds and I agree on the textbooks we use for these subjects. I don't invite their opinion before using anything, but I do take into account if it isn't a good fit. My younger dd finds Latina Christiana a bit dry (and frankly, so do I) but I can't afford to just keep buying different programs when I already have one. I added Our Roman Roots to it (a latin program my older dd used) and we just keep going for now. I may, when I find the time, come up with something new for her, but for now it will have to do.

 

Recently, I've realized that its more important to use books we love (literature which is filled with depth) and really dig into them. I can teach dd new skills (such as literary skills and writing skills) based on these books we love.

 

Sorry, if this goes on too much....I'll stop now!:001_smile:

Edited by Kfamily
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When my kids were younger, it was easy to get all subjects done every day. Even as older students, we still do this. I think trying to do all subjects in a day can make for a long day. Maybe this is too much??? Then again, my kids are learning how to budget their time.

 

Somewhere in there, there needs to be a balance. Teaching according to learning styles along with the engagement that has been such an important theme in this thread would help keep school a positive experience.

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I'm copying a blog post that was a post of mine here many years ago on the same question. The only thing I would add is that we have had great success by not having artificial incentives to learning. We simply treat it as an obvious part of life. :D And most of their "school" is directed by me, and they spend their free time pusuing their own interests, which my unscholing friends warned me about, but has created these knowledge-thirsty creatures I live with.

 

--------------

 

In no particular order, thoughts on creating lifelong learners and/or children who love to learn:

 

1. Fill your home with books. Good books that your children are allowed to sleep with, play with, wear out, etc. (get them cheap if this will make your wallet hurt.) Oh, and *good* art supplies that they are allowed to use whenever. And good music.

 

2. Show your children that you value education by how you spend your own free time. Research shows a high correlation between boys' fathers' reading and their own, for example. They need to see that you don't just make them learn, you have a passion for it, too. Get rid of your TV, read classic books, spend your free time learning....

 

3. Spend family time learning. Play games, visit museums, discuss things. Show them by example how delightful learning can be. Plan vacations around historical landmarks and learn enough about them ahead to be an interesting guide to them.

 

4. Show them through your money and time that you value their interests. If they are interested in something, buy them what they need, take them where they need to go, listen when they talk about it. If they don't have an interest/passion, throw some at them until one sticks, and then guide them through it until they learn to do it on their own.

 

5. Start "school" with them really young. A few minutes a day for the first few years, gradually building up (my goal is an hour in K) so that they never have the shock of, "Okay, now you are 5 1/2 and you have to sit and do this." Make it a treat/reward to sit at the table with the big kids, if they are a little sibling.

 

6. Seek out others who love topics and let your children see them in action. Praise these people in front of your children, showing them that this is a trait to be admired.

 

7. Give them the tools and uninterrupted hours needed. To get in hours of uninterrupted free study time and a rigorous school schedule, you might have to cut out other things. Do it.

 

8. Even when they are older, still treat "school time" as a privilege to be desired. Explain it as you taking your valuable time to teach them something you, in your more advanced years, are pretty sure they will need in life.

 

9. Don't make them do dumb stuff for school time. They can smell twaddle, busy work, whatever you call it. Focus on things that are important and tell them frequently why they are important.

 

10. Success in something breeds a desire to do it. Give them the basic skills they need to learn, so that they may feel successful. Use a good, solid phonics/reading program and math program, so that they have the building blocks to even be able to pursue topics that interest them later. Spend the early years on this and character formation instead of trying to cover every little topic under the sun.

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I'm copying a blog post that was a post of mine here many years ago on the same question. The only thing I would add is that we have had great success by not having artificial incentives to learning. We simply treat it as an obvious part of life. :D And most of their "school" is directed by me, and they spend their free time pusuing their own interests, which my unscholing friends warned me about, but has created these knowledge-thirsty creatures I live with.

 

--------------

 

In no particular order, thoughts on creating lifelong learners and/or children who love to learn:

 

1. Fill your home with books. Good books that your children are allowed to sleep with, play with, wear out, etc. (get them cheap if this will make your wallet hurt.) Oh, and *good* art supplies that they are allowed to use whenever. And good music.

 

2. Show your children that you value education by how you spend your own free time. Research shows a high correlation between boys' fathers' reading and their own, for example. They need to see that you don't just make them learn, you have a passion for it, too. Get rid of your TV, read classic books, spend your free time learning....

 

3. Spend family time learning. Play games, visit museums, discuss things. Show them by example how delightful learning can be. Plan vacations around historical landmarks and learn enough about them ahead to be an interesting guide to them.

 

4. Show them through your money and time that you value their interests. If they are interested in something, buy them what they need, take them where they need to go, listen when they talk about it. If they don't have an interest/passion, throw some at them until one sticks, and then guide them through it until they learn to do it on their own.

 

5. Start "school" with them really young. A few minutes a day for the first few years, gradually building up (my goal is an hour in K) so that they never have the shock of, "Okay, now you are 5 1/2 and you have to sit and do this." Make it a treat/reward to sit at the table with the big kids, if they are a little sibling.

 

6. Seek out others who love topics and let your children see them in action. Praise these people in front of your children, showing them that this is a trait to be admired.

 

7. Give them the tools and uninterrupted hours needed. To get in hours of uninterrupted free study time and a rigorous school schedule, you might have to cut out other things. Do it.

 

8. Even when they are older, still treat "school time" as a privilege to be desired. Explain it as you taking your valuable time to teach them something you, in your more advanced years, are pretty sure they will need in life.

 

9. Don't make them do dumb stuff for school time. They can smell twaddle, busy work, whatever you call it. Focus on things that are important and tell them frequently why they are important.

 

10. Success in something breeds a desire to do it. Give them the basic skills they need to learn, so that they may feel successful. Use a good, solid phonics/reading program and math program, so that they have the building blocks to even be able to pursue topics that interest them later. Spend the early years on this and character formation instead of trying to cover every little topic under the sun.

 

This is all quite brilliant.

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I'm copying a blog post that was a post of mine here many years ago on the same question. The only thing I would add is that we have had great success by not having artificial incentives to learning. We simply treat it as an obvious part of life. :D And most of their "school" is directed by me, and they spend their free time pusuing their own interests, which my unscholing friends warned me about, but has created these knowledge-thirsty creatures I live with.

 

<snipped>

 

Angela I think I love you. :001_wub:

 

Your list is amazing.

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They have to learn to love what must be done (I totally stole that one from CiRCE). And you have to balance that with lots of free time, so that they can explore their own interests, and lots of wonder.

 

I'm wondering if you're requiring too much work?

 

That sounds like Christopher Perrin! :D

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I think "love of learning" should be about commitment to learning rather than fun.

 

I love my husband dearly, and I am committed to him long term, but that doesn't mean that our relationship is always 100% fun. Sure, we can have lots of fun at certain times. But there's also lots of important stuff that isn't fun, such as being supportive when he lost both his parents.

 

The way I see it, to engender a love/commitment towards learning in kids involves two things: first, helping them learn how to learn, and second, helping them see the value of learning. Some of this has to do with how and what you teach them, but a lot has to do with how you are and how you live. Obviously, if you can have heaps of fun along the way, all the better, but ultimately not everything that's worth doing can be fun.

 

I love Angela's list of ideas.

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