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So, how do you encourage a 'love of learning'?

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How does one truly encourage a love of learning?


My kids are simply overwhelmened, and bored! Endless Maths, Latin, Logic, History, Essays, Religion and Science - I'm trying to encourage discussion and enjoying learning, but it just ain't happening!


Now, true - it is a challenge fitting it all in - 8 children, all of homeschool age, and so much to learn. And, they are being very difficult about chores and such, which seem to take ALL day - we 'should' have enough time for all the lessons with plenty of spare time, but with the dawling, it's a strain just to get through. And then, there's the home business, which takes up so much of both my time and hubby's time.


DH and I went looking at camper trailers today - the kind of trailer that includes a massive fold-out tent - I'm so tempted to buy it, ditch the formal academics, and go a-camping!


They need more 'life lessons', and less book work - but, am I brave enough? And what 'is' the most important? Will they really, really suffer in life if we don't complete every, single science book I had intended?


Two of my daughters have learning problems - a Classical Ed has helped greatly, but I doubt they'll grow to be college professors (although, one never knows!) - it's almost like we've reached a point where all the academics, once very helpful, is know 'hindering' their development somehow.


We do take a break every now and then - but all that happens is they end up in front of the Playstation, Wii or TV - brain-deadening activities!


Hmm.. maybe that camping trip is the way to go.... just notebooking our trip, maybe? Could I be that brave?


Sorry, rambling! Any suggestions? I LOVE reading and learning, and so does DH - we discuss things, debate, read - it's just not being passed on - well, not that we can see yet, anyway. Any book recommendations on this topic?


Thankyou! :001_smile:

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I only have 2 kids, so what I've been able to do may not fit your family, but I thought I'd share a few anecdotes about putting away the books and living life.


A year ago we took a road trip and went on several tours of interesting places. My then 16yo was horrified at the entire plan -- being stuck in the car with his family for hours on end, having to go do "educational" things during his vacation. I'd always had the mantra that I was homeschooling to instill a love of learning, and this particular kid loved to bug me by working hard to prove that he HATED learning! But an interesting thing happened on this trip. When we'd go on an organized tour of a place, he would hang back and try to be disinterested, but after about 2 of these tours, he commented that he noticed our family was the only one who would be engaged during the tour, asking questions and making positive comments about what we were seeing. He would not give me the satisfaction of admitting he himself was engaged and interested by these tours, but he loved the fact that his family was different from the others, that we were engaged and inquisitive. He really appreciates now my approach to life and parenting and homeschooling, that his dad and I are still actively learning and that we have worked to instill this in them.


My 14yo and I would LOVE to go to Australia! He and I recently read Bill Bryson's book In a Sunburned Country about traveling around your country, and we are just hooked. I would say you should by all means go on a family camping trip and put your kids to work blogging about it for our vicarious enjoyment! Problem is, of course, that the place is just too darned big for your family to pack up and drive to, say, Perth for a short vacation! But there is a lot to see and learn no matter where you might go -- little museums, unusual places. Get away from the city lights and enjoy the stars. Get the road maps out and have the kids calculate how long it would take to drive to Darwin, figure out how often you'd have to stop for gas and where on the map those stops are. Have them plan a budget. Even if you don't make the trip, the planning and thinking of it is fun and educational.


The main approach I've taken toward instilling a love of learning is to tailor as much as I can to fit my children's interests. Easier to do with 2 than 8, but something to consider. I've framed history and literature around interests as much as possible -- theater for the oldest and science for the youngest. My youngest also loves reading fantasy so we did the Literary Lessons from Lord of the Rings this year, reading Beowulf and now Sir Gawain.


I also think homeschooling is great because kids can follow their interests as deeply as they'd like. My oldest, the theater geek, has learning disabilities as well, and I have let him work as much as possible in community theaters and at our church where he does all their lighting for special events and most weekend services. He also sings and performs. He has quite a resume of experience now and will start studying theater at a community college in the fall and will likely be working at one of the Disney resorts before long (his dream.) He isn't going to be a college professor, but he has the skills he needs to do the kind of work he loves.


I've even tried tapping into the video game industry to find some educational value. Industry magazines provide a lesson on the business and economics of game design and marketing. Computer programming teaches logic. All these companies use artists to design characters and backgrounds, to write the stories, so I've had my kids design their own game concepts.


One last anecdote. About 4 years ago we had the worst possible year of homeschooling because my mom and my dh's dad were both dying. My mom was nearby so I was the primary decision maker as she went in and out of hospitals and nursing homes and home. I didn't have the energy to plan much less nag and cajole my kids into doing work, and they spent far too much time in front of electronic entertainment. When I was home though, we read aloud or listened together to books on tape. It wound up not being the disaster of a year that I thought it was. We loved reading together -- Sherlock Holmes, Jules Verne, Dickens, and when things got back to normal my kids weren't behind, but moved on as if nothing had happened. This was an extreme case, and I wouldn't do this on purpose for a full year, but it just shows that education can happen without school.


Hope something in this long post sparks a good idea that works for you!

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Encourage a love of learning, not just by preaching it, but by practicing it.

Show your kids that you truly enjoy, or at least try hard to "enjoy" in front of them, reading new books, rereading old ones, looking things up in texts or dictionaries or online. Don't be satisfied if you just hear something from someone - let your kids see you question it enough to go look it up. And show enjoyment in this.


Begin reading to kids and make a RITUAL yes RITUAL of it when they are tiny.

As in, a 3 minute book when they can sit up in your lap, gradually working up from there.


I really agree with SWB, I believe in her seminars and her books, where she says in a nutshell that reading is the key to apprehending all other areas of the curriculum. Make readers out of your children, as best you can.

The method of introducing hard literature to younger kids, in the form of simplified versions or "children's versions" is great and, I think, works well. When they've been exposed to a story over and over again -either byhearing you read aloud, CD listening, or children's or abridged versions, they truly aren't threatened by the unabridged versions later.


Reading is key, I believe. If they can develop a love for reading and an appreciation for books, then they can more easily develop a true love for learning.



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I have to agree with Jennifer about travel and learning. The only academic subject my LD ds likes/loves is history. And he developed that love by traveling to historic sites and turning them into playgrounds. His favorite vacation spot? Williamsburg. If I could only find a way to do that with math.......


I've also found it helps to spend the extra money and time on educational games -- fun games. One game he likes is the Chemistry game at the Junior high level. Also including short, easy assignments with no tests help change the attitude.


Like your dc, chores are a major problem at our house. But ds will do his more readily if I'm working with him at the same time. It doesn't matter that I was working earlier, I need to be working at the same time much of the time. My mom would also turn chores into play with races, singing and goofing around. She also didn't insist that everything be done "just so". Unfortunately I never did that.


Another problem at our house is that I'm constantly trying to improve things -- read constructive criticism. Ds interprets that as "I can never do anything right." Things that help this problem is for me NOT to grade everything. A lot of his homework, especially his great love history, I just occasionally check. Something else that helps if I just read the answers and ds grades the work. Finally, I have to practice, on occasion, to ONLY point out what he does right.


But back to the trailer idea. I'm trying to pin dh to make a few final decisions about the RV we're ordering soon. Then I want to do a lot of traveling to make me lighten up and give us fun alternatives to do as a family. Even if ds is a teen and objects to doing things with us, a lot of the complaints are hot air. It's obvious he still likes doing things with us. OK, lets be honest -- SOME things.

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For me, fostering a love of learning is a daily thing. Hopping in a trailer or going camping is FANTASTIC... but where I live, we can't do that half the year. :glare: I've found that even the mundane can be fun. It starts with mom, and it's really about a fun home, rather than fun subjects (although colourful engaging curricula does help!) Do silly things, sing silly songs, do something unexpected. Here's some off-the-cuff ideas:


  • without notice, tell all the kids not to get dressed. It's jammie day. Hop in the car and go pick up take-out breakfast. Yes, in your jammies. They'll giggle lots if you're in curlers!
  • make pancake shapes. Serve with whipped cream and/or berries.
  • have a funny hat day
  • have backwards day (take it all the way and serve breakfast for supper, do your fun subject first like art, etc.)
  • Intersperse your curriculum with field trips (think caves, caverns, factories, any kind of adventure) museum trips, movies that pertain to a topic just covered. Try to experience something so they can appreciate & relate to what they just learned. When a memory is tied in with what they've learned, they own it, it becomes theirs, and they cherish it more than if it didn't apply to their lives at all.
  • work on a project together: repair an old bike, repaint it, donate to a child less fortunate annonomously; make a wall-sized family tree; adopt a family; sneak around your neighbourhood leaving May baskets on doorsteps; plan a project that will unite all members of the family, consider everyone's input and have FUN with it.
  • do hands-on things, like experiments.
  • grab an amazing read-aloud the entire family will enjoy. Lamplighter publishing has amazing ones that will impact everyone.
  • Intercept a boring math lesson with a special treat: a bowl of popcorn or pudding.
  • Plan a unit-end or year-end celebration. TOG does this nicely, where you invite family and friends over and the kids show off their display boards, dress from a certain era, serve that era's food, and perhaps put on a skit. The kids love it and look forward to it. It really means a lot to them to have "an end" in sight and celebrate successes, instead of feeling like it'll never end.
  • Smile lots and sometimes when you're walking by, tickle them as they work. If you're there experiencing it with them, modeling your love of learning, making an exciting environment, they will love learning!
  • Talk to them. Lay down in your jammies, very relaxed, and ask them what they want to learn. Ask them if there's something they've always wanted to do. Ask them what would make school more fun for them.

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I used to think that ds hated to learn. But then I realized that he really does enjoy learning, just nothing academic. He read countless books and learned how different car components work. Now he can tell you anything about any whosy-whatsit on any type of car. He taught himself more than your average 13 year old knows about mountain bikes, too. I stopped being frustrated because he doesn't choose to read fine literature or watch documentaries on anything but cars, bikes, and skateboards. I just limit tv and video game time and encourage him to learn about the things he enjoys. I let him subscribe to a car magazine (We only found one that was mostly appropriate and still had to go through new issues and rip out pictures of half naked ladies!) and since we are all cyclists, we already get a biking magazine that he enjoys reading. He still has to do algebra, write papers, and read the books that I think should be read. If you are like me, you may find that you just have to plug along with the necessary subjects but encourage them to learn more about the things they like. You may even be able to work those interests into their school day. My ds has made his interest the subjects of his composition and that makes them more pleasant to write.

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Edited: I just remembered that I was posting this on the high school board, and my advice is really for younger kids, but I do agree that traveling, tapping into their interests and reading out loud lots are great for that.


We certainly haven't done everything right, but so far our kids (10.5 & 12) still love learning and I think there are a couple things we did right. I don't really know how to start it at a later stage, but these are some things we did from the beginning.

1. We really limited screen time. Our kids watched very little TV when they were little. They still don't watch much at all.

2. Most of our trips centered about driving and seeing museums and historical things rather than amusement park type trips.

3. We read, read, read, read, read to the kids when they were little and still between dh and me we read to the kids at least 1-2 hours a day.

4. BOth dh and I love to learn and we model a love of learning for the kids.


Don't get me wrong, my kids don't love every assignment they get, and I don't particularly try and make things like math and grammar interesting for them. But, somehow they have managed to hold on to their curiosity and their enjoyment of learning things. I'm praying it continues through their teen years, although I'm preparing for a few more eye rolls!!! :001_smile:

Edited by WTMindy
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I sometimes think that part of the problem is that we come here and listen in on twenty conversations a day where someone is doing something spectacular with their curriculum. And we forget that no one is doing something spectacular with each and every bit of their curriculum...it just seems that way. One family is doing amazing things with science, and another is using the Teaching Company lectures in a brilliant way. And another has their children write essays weekly. And another....


You get what I'm saying.


I've had to come to terms with the fact that no two of my kids will get the same education, and that it's never going to look exactly how I want it to be.


What I am learning to do is to follow my kids' passions to a certain extent. The child that is now into web programming gets to spend 6 scheduled hours (and countless unscheduled hours) programming. The work he does on his computer counts for an elective in programming and parts of his English and Social Studies grade (through the cooking blog he does).


Latin for this child has become an exercise to endure. We listen to history lectures and do some readings, but he doesn't write brilliant essays, nor do we "discuss" much. He can't do everything....


It's all about choices, I think.

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We took our two younger ones around the country with a tent trailer last summer. Our oldest (21 at the time) flew out to meet us during his vacation. My goal for the trip wasn't education, although I knew lots of that would happen anyway. I wanted my children to develop a love of their country. When I was a teenager, my parents drove me around the US in an RV to show me my beautiful country and I wanted to do the same for my children. With that in mind, since my children don't particularly like history, we skipped all the wonderful historic sites and just did the national parks. They still saw some historical sites accidentally, of course, because history happens everywhere, but I didn't set out to do it on purpose. I told everyone that they had to do three hours of school every day. This wasn't a big shock because they have always had to read for two hours in the summer. I gathered up most of TWTM logic stage US history reading list and packed it into two boxes, along with The Cartoon History of the US and (for the older one who is a political activist) History of US, Idiot's Guide to US Government, Getting a Grip, Post American World, Hope's Edge, and a book whose title I can't remember about peace. I also packed a box of mixed historical fiction and scifi that we could all read for fun. Each child had a journal and a box of coloured pencils and The Geography Coloring Book. Every day, they wrote in their journals, did a spread of the coloring book, and read some history. They got to choose which school books they read for the three hours, but they had to limit historical fiction to half an hour. The older one split up his history book and read some of that, some of one of his extra books, and some of TWTM list every day. They didn't read all TWTM list books, but they each read about 2/3 of them. It worked splendidly. Meanwhile, they saw bears, hunted for petroglyphs, climbed mountains, rock climbed in the desert, almost stepped on rattlesnakes, got evacuated during a flood, had a bison sneak up behind them and blow down their backs in the prairie, went spelunking, saw where their fruit and vegetables and milk and beef come from, wandered around campgrounds talking to cowboys and farmers and ranchers and all sorts of other people, and were horrified at how thin the earth's crust is in some places.


We aren't a very academic-minded family. I think I've managed not ruin my children's love of learning by keeping that in mind. I try not to ruin anything they love by adding lots of writing to it. I try to take subjects they dislike and do them as efficiently as possible; textbooks are pretty efficient. I try to take subjects in which they are interested and find ways for them to learn them that focus on whatever aspect they find intriguing. I try to separate out the skills from the content and teach them separately. The skills are non-negotiable. I try to tailor the content to each child's interests, and let them learn large parts of it in a non-academic way if they wish. This means travel for the older one. I make the great books part of our learning nice by reading everything aloud together and discussing it as we go and letting them choose their own project/paper to do at the end of each book. I make some of the other subjects nicer by having us do them all together. I make school in general nicer by keeping a schedule, so everyone knows that the hard bits are only going to last until blank, and school itself will be over at blank, and I try to make sure they have free time to do their own projects. With the son who is wired a little differently, for whom academics come harder, I found (or rather, he found) a better way to learn - he travels. When he is home, I try to take what he has learned traveling and organize it and show him how it fits into the big picture, and work on academic skills. I can't say that I have been entirely successful, but I haven't done too badly so far. Nobody loves sitting down and doing school, but they are cooperative and don't complain, and they light up when they run across something cool and call me to come and hear about it, and where non-academic learning is concerned, they are happy and excited.



Edited by Nan in Mass
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I've read outloud for years and for hours at a time. The kids can play quietly, but they have to be able to tell me what we've read. We've read a little bit of everything and a whole lot of some.

My dh and I are pretty learning oriented and always talking about what we've been reading, listening to, thinking about. The kids are often part of these dicussions.

We do lots of teaching Dvd's and audio tapes- some are academically oriented- i.e. "How Shall We Then Live" and others are just for fun, "Ben Hur."

We work together hauling wood, canning, etc. We learn as we go.

We are curious about the world and what makes others tick, other cultures and languages. We ask questions of people and wait for their answers.

We share a common faith. This is an important thread in our family, we learn about it, study it, live it as much as we can. This requires learning.

We let our kids know that sometimes things are just hard and they have to learn them whether they "want" to or not. In doing so they are developing character and perserverance.

We hope to ignite our kids passions in life- what jazzes them, create opportunities for them to grow and develop in those areas.

The New Global Student: Skip the SAT, Save Thousands on Tuition, and Get a Truly International Education by Maya Frost. This book looks cool- I think the mom ended up taking her kids to a different country.

Also, have you looked at the Teenage Liberation Handbook by Grace Llewelyn?

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