What is this secret weapon, you ask?
Here’s a hint…
All moms and dads have this parenting tool in their arsenal. But homeschooling offers the advantage of significantly more time and freedom to use it!
So, what is this thing that makes homeschooling so effective, even when it’s used by average Jane’s and Joe’s teaching their kids in their kitchen?
Drum roll, please…
As homeschoolers experience life together, they talk.
I know. It’s so not profound you may have read right past it. I’ll say it again.
Conversation is homeschooling’s secret weapon.
So simple! Yet so powerful!
For example, consider this ten-minute discussion my family had a while ago. My then-toddler was using this disposable placemat at a restaurant.
She asked something about Elmo. And what started as a debate about the names of Sesame Street characters turned into a mini health lesson right there in the restaurant.
We talked about types of exercise. We talked about which foods might be healthier than the burgers and fries we just ordered. We branched into dentistry, germs, sleep habits, vitamins, sports, and more.
We all asked questions. We all discussed answers. And what we couldn’t answer, we looked up.
It was a month of health class in the time it takes to cook a burger. And a lot of it stuck with my kids because they were relaxed, engaged and curious.
Instead of me spending hours preparing a unit on Healthy Habits, we eliminated the busy work (for me and my kids) and got straight to the point – the actual content – in a natural, real-life context.
Discussions throughout our days are incredibly effective. It’s such an innate and advantageous way for kids to learn and retain information!
Now, that’s not to say you should never buy curricula. I haven’t seen any Sesame Street placemats that teach calculus. And I’m definitely not saying home educators need to know everything about every subject in every grade so they can speak at length on every topic. No way!
But I am saying you don’t HAVE to use fancy, expensive curricula for every subject. Especially in elementary school and in your areas of expertise, you can teach a LOT just through everyday experiences and discussions.
No matter what resources you choose, you and your kids can interject thoughts and connections to other topics. You can all ask questions and discuss or look up answers together.
For more examples of this kind of conversational learning, check out this post: Kids Are Always Learning (Even on Vacation).
Learning is ALWAYS taking place and conversations with our kids are at the heart of it all. What a benefit it is (intellectually, relationally and emotionally) for kids to have their questions addressed and respected – to feel heard!
In a homeschool setting, there’s simply more time to talk to each other – about academics and about life. More questions can be answered. More rabbit trails can be followed. More teachable moments can be seized.
So go! Buy a placemat! Seize the moment!
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