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The Basics of Teaching Children Part 2

I’m a big believer in making learning fun and interesting. I have seen children really soak in new knowledge when the teacher is excited about a subject and shows that she really wants to share it with the children because it’s fun to know or do.

For example, I’m excited about this Monarch caterpillar of mine. My kids have caught the excitement, too. They check on him regularly to see what he’s doing. They come and tell me when he passes waste. They told me when Kelsey saw him shed his skin. Then we all watched him eat it. Yuck!

I bought some magnifying glasses yesterday, and they’ve been getting a really close look at him. (They’ve gotten close looks at everything in the world since I got those magnifying glasses!) They have made some heroic attempts to find food for him and risked life and limb to obtain Milkweed plants for him.

I found information in the Handbook of Nature Study online about Monarch caterpillars and Milkweed. I read it to Fiona, and she paid very close attention because we had an actual Monarch caterpillar in a jar observing it while I read about it.

This is one way to get children excited about learning. There are lots of ways. I love lapbooks, as many people can attest to. I think lapbooks are a great way to learn a lot about a subject and to allow creativity and hands-on, active learning to happen. I know that children learn more thoroughly when they write about a topic themselves. Lapbooks are the best way I have found to get my kids to write about what we are studying.

Using music in your school makes it more fun. Using computer games that teach skills makes it fun for the kids. Cooking and baking teaches lots of skills, including Math, following directions (a recipe), some chemistry (if you do some research or know food chemistry yourself), and cooperation. You can also discuss the many topics related to food and nutrition while you’re working with your children in the kitchen.

My favorite thing to make learning fun is to read books aloud to my children. That is fun for them and for me. This is the mainstay of my homeschool program. I read aloud to my oldest children every day. I read the portion each day from the Daily Bible to them. I read historical novels, biographies, missionary biographies, and teaching books about spiritual topics to them. We have learned about so many different subjects through these books that I can’t even begin to list them all.

My American history study has been loosely based on reading about each President. As I read to them about a particular President, we find out about what was happening in the country during his term in office. It has helped me to understand the flow of events in our country and why things happened the way they did and why people see things the way they do – even today. We are reading The Great Little Madison by Jean Fritz right now.  We might read some other books I got from the library about Daniel Webster and Lafayette if we have time.  I read some books to myself and make them available for the kids to read if they want to.  Some of them pick up any book they see and read it.  Others need a little more encouragement.  But I allow a lot of freedom and space.  I don’t make a lot of demands.

I believe in letting them take the lead in much of their learning.  I find out what they’re interested in and get the necessary equipment and books for them to learn all they can about it.  I let them immerse themselves into a subject as much as they want to.  When they’re done, I don’t push them to do more.

They tell me what really excites them, and I try to facilitate their study.  I was taught in my education classes that a teacher was to be a facilitator of learning.  That is what I have tried to do in our homeschool.  It is producing good results.  My kids love to learn.

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