In last Tuesday’s post I mentioned I would be asking each of my children for lists of things they would love to learn more about. On Friday I posted about how I’m evaluating this year and thinking about the next. I finally got around to asking the kids for lists Friday as well. Now let me preface this with the disclaimer that these answers are unscripted and come straight from my little children’s mouths. The post is a bit long but hopefully you’ll be able to apply what I’ve learned in your homeschool.
Here is what I did. I sat down with one child at a time and asked two questions:
- What are some things you like, things you would like to learn more about?
- What are your favorite things we do when we are homeschooling?
Joseph was the first child I tried this with. Depending on the age of your child you may need to start randomly naming things they could be interested in to get them started, including jobs they might want to know more about. Joseph had no trouble though. He wants to learn about:
- places with ice on the ground
- Star Wars
- “disgusting stuff like poop and pee” (that is a direct quote – what can I say?)
- Earth, planets, stars
For question number 2 Joseph’s favorite thing to do for homeschool is listen to mommy read books. I think from Joseph the things that surprised me were flags and maps. Sad to say I was not surprised to hear he wants to learn about ‘disgusting stuff’. He is a boy, after all.
Emma had the shortest list. It is:
- scuba divers
- treasure chests
Her favorite thing to do for homeschool is “snuggle up and read”. Yeah, she’s my snuggly girl. I was really surprised at how interested she is in all things ocean. I will be taking advantage of this one.
Makayla had the longest list, and the most detailed response to question number 2 as well. First the list of things she wants to learn more about:
- ancient Egypt: why the black cat statues? more about mummies, pyramids
- wild cats - which just happens to be the next chapter in our science book. We will do this after our rocks unit.
- horses, giraffes, zebras
- cockroaches – one of the few insects we have not studied in detail. Can you blame me? Yuck!
- the arctic and Antarctica
- the zoo, being a zookeeper or a veterinarian
- China and different languages
- pioneers and the American Girl Kirsten
Of those the surprises were ancient Egypt and different languages.
Makayla had quite the list of things she likes to do for homeschool, with some detailed commentary about each that I will sum up.
- Lapbooks – this is #1 for a reason. She was emphatic that we need to do more lapbooks again, she loves them.
- Notebooking – this surprised me a bit as she often complains about the writing portion of a notebooking page in passing. Her reasoning: “I do it anyway because I know I can use my notebook later to read through. I like having my own notes. Even though I don’t like the writing sometimes I still do it because I know I like the finished notebook.”
- Reading stories, both on her own and read alouds by Mommy – yes, I knew this. She devours books by the armful and then asks me to read some more.
- Coloring projects - goes in with the lapbooking and notebooking if you ask me.
- Workbooks – yes, really. She likes the independent aspect, and that it becomes almost a notebook.
- Computer games – we have some Magic School Bus games she really enjoys.
The other thing I did with Makayla was have her go through a list of all the lapbooks I have available for us to do and mark the ones she would be interested in. She had a blast with this, though she wanted to get started on a lapbook right away. I am going to take advantage of her enthusiasm soon, very soon.
So what did I learn in all of this? What can you learn from my experience? First I learned to ask. My children’s list of interests is important. The more that we take time to learn about what interests them, the more that learning will stick with them. They each have interests I would not have guessed at mixed in with the ones I would have named. Your children just may surprise you too.
Second, this gives me a great way to evaluate what I have chosen to teach this year. While there are topics I feel we need to learn about, or topics I am sure they will be interested in once they are introduced to them, I also have the freedom to follow their interests. It is one of the perks to homeschooling. I think a good mix of topics they want to learn about and topics I want them to learn about makes for a good balance.
Third, asking what they like to do in homeschooling, the ways they like to learn, reaffirmed my feelings that we’ve been missing our read alouds and unit studies. Our curriculum centered year without literature supported unit studies is working alright. They are learning. It is not where their heart, or mine, thrives.
So now I have a decision to make. Do I continue the year as planned and not taking time for unit studies? Do I scrap the whole plan and go back to only unit studies? Is there a middle ground – some happy mix of using the curriculum while taking breaks to do a unit study here and there? Check back later to see what I decide to do.
I also have to keep thinking about and checking out options for next year. I will be posting about some of those options later, as I continue this series of posts.
Posts in this series: