Gifted kids break the mold. They’re the ones with the outlandish (yet often successful) ideas. They dream big and need your help with planning and following those dreams. Often, that takes the form of after school activities or lessons, or independent projects. It can also work in a homeschooling environment by varying the content, pace, product, or environment. While it’s a guideline that can be applied for any child (and should), for our poppies, it takes on a certain level of responsibility. Often these kids respond to more adult materials or elevated content built up in a more traditional presentation, but then there are the times or kids who are adverse to typical traditional approaches who might crave learning outside the box even more.
Creative kids, underachievers, and a crave for novelty in their studies can put some kids at a crossroads when handed a worksheet, book, or project. When learning is becoming humdrum, you need to find another way in. How can you change up straight forward skills like multiplication facts, learning about historical events, or even the scientific method when your child is bucking the presentation? Use the passions of your child.
Back to school means lots of “ugh”s in my house. Dad is a classroom teacher and oldest son attends a traditional religious school (by choice) so it’s back to very structured environments for them. I came from that, but craved the autonomy that I now get homeschooling my youngest son (who craves it too). We keep some structure, but use our passions for our topics and let our learning be our guide. You can always use your child’s passion to teach other, less desirable content. Here’s an example of how we did it just a few days ago.
We started with learning about the Scientific Method with the aim of my son taking on the responsibility of self-directed learning research projects as our goal for this year. My son bucked the idea of a research project, which initially didn’t surprise me. He’s usually adverse to big plans until he understands the big picture. I intended to have him create a list of ideas to investigate, but his lack of understanding about my intentions created a mountain of chaos and frustration instead….for a moment. I could tell his usual passions of astronomy and physics weren’t going to fly this time, so when I mentioned his new favorite game of Splatoon, I knew I would at least get him to listen through my ideas. I had a hook.
Upon hearing about how Splatoon could be added to his research, he immediately jumped up; yes, literally. For the next 90 minutes, we discussed procedures, materials, trials, and variables for setting up his investigation. He settled on a hypothesis, gathered his materials, and wrote out his procedures. I created a data table for his investigation and we talked about how we can use the table for his Data Analysis unit. Of course, he loved his trials, took on extra variables to expand his investigation, and happily charted his times. He mentioned pertinent observations that will add to his analysis and affect his conclusions. We discussed ways he can share his data and though he loved it, he did question it’s worthiness while working on his project. Understanding that the intention was to introduce him to formal research, I knew the topic wasn’t a problem. Later, he wasn’t so sure. As it turns out, neither were the traditional learners who live in his house.
I find that many times I’m fighting what seems like a never-ending battle with any deviation from traditional learning while homeschooling. Why is it okay to do a project with students in a classroom, but a homeschooling kid who has different opportunities with the same traditional subject concepts tends to questions the validity of his “fun” learning?
To give some background, my husband teaches high school and so there is more of a disconnect between my style and his due to the fact that I was an elementary teacher and he tends to go more by the book- literally. Why must my son’s and my excitement about his learning be dimmed even while working through a traditional method, concept, and subject? Why must we be curing cancer or saving the earth during our homeschooling day to be looked upon as worthy? Why is Splatoon research less in the eyes of some? Field trips, computers, and television are all used for fun, but they also worthy as learning tools when used in other ways.
Ironically, as I search for these answers and wonder how to break through a bias with homeschooling, my oldest son and husband have returned from school and are now playing Minecraft and games on an iPad. You gotta’ laugh, sometimes.
Will people ever understand that learning can be and is fun or will many continue to walk through life dreading the very thing that should be celebrated? Why the disconnect between learning and fun? Why is less appealing learning considered more worthy?
Next time you find your child and yourself plowing through the drudgery of learning, find a way to shake it up and add some fun, because in learning…………..
YES, IT COUNTS.