What is learning? Shouldn’t it be fun? I’ve pondered those questions for years now. If you step back and think about it learning is, by nature, fun. A young child eagerly explores his world discovering new things. Somewhere along the line we have taken a child’s natural curiosity and made learning into work. While there will always be things we will need to learn, school on the whole should be full of enjoyment. School and enjoyment don’t often go together. Learning and enjoyment don’t often go together, but they should.
Don’t get me wrong here. I am not suggesting that games or hands-on activities dominate a child’s school time. Those things are enjoyed by many children and do facilitate learning, but enjoyment of learning isn’t about a method. It is about attitude. Michael Clay Thompson recently expressed how he does not believe in using games or activities to make grammar more fun. He wants children to see the beauty of language and enjoy it for what it is. That is reflected in his approach.
So my job as a homeschooling parent is to continually evaluate the process of learning. Not only do I evaluate whether my children are learning, but whether they are enjoying the process. I love learning and one of my major goals of homeschooling is to pass on a love of learning to my children.
Truth be told, I get bored easily. I hate being bored. So the standard run-of-the-mill curriculum that teaches a concept with follow-up questions would leave me lethargic and counting the ticks of the clock until my children finished. Maybe some parents can pull that off with enthusiasm, but I need to be able to get my kids to interact with the information. We utilize games, DVDs, activities, discussions, stories, living books, contemplation, and more. I want the information to jump off the page and do a little dance as it makes its way into my child’s long term memory. It is a work in process. My kids don’t always enjoy the learning process. This is where evaluation comes into play. I need to continually evaluate what I can do differently to make my child’s learning more enjoyable.