If you want to find some joy in the homeschool journey for this new year, I have a great pointer for you today! I think you might love me for it. I know your child will love you for it! And it's really a simple idea.
Aim for "shining eyes."
What are "shining eyes"? you ask.
Let me give you an example.
In September, our family visited a beachside town. As we like to do, we found a little antiques and collectibles shop and went in to nose around. While we were browsing, we came across a small room filled with books, and, as we are a family of bibliophiles, in we all went. I was perusing a shelf in one aisle when around the corner came Bekah...with shining eyes! "Mom, look!"
What had given my girl shining eyes? A large book entitled Fashion: From Ancient Egypt to the Present Day.
After a quick consultation with Dad, we bought this book for Bekah. I knew that we were going to study ancient history in our homeschool this year, and that this might be just the thing to pique her interest and to make ancient cultures "real" to her. She pored over it all the way home, she has looked through it many times since, and it is kept handy (not shelved) in her room. (In fact, she said that she wished she had a coffee table in her room so she could display her coffee table book. ~grin~)
A few years ago, a group of local homeschoolers read and discussed the book When Children Love to Learn: A Practical Application of Charlotte Mason's Philosophy for Today, edited by Elaine Cooper. We were all struck by the phrase "shining eyes" in a chapter contributed by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay. The author encouraged teachers to "choose books that catch the children's interest and imagination." She went on to say,
Slavishly following a set curriculum if it doesn't fit a class, situation, or child is legalistic folly. Get "shining eyes" first, and the coveted question, "Can't you read more?" will come. This question shows that what you are doing is succeeding.
What homeschooling mom has not seen the difference that the right book can make? The difference between a glazed over expression and shining eyes? And when does more learning take place? When does the student make lasting connections with an idea or topic?
So...how does one find shining eyes?
So...how does one find shining eyes?
- If you're choosing a book to read with your history or science topic, why not take your child along on your trip to the library? Find several choices (be sure that all are "living books), and see which one excites her.
- Choose a history topic based on his loves. Is he fascinated with the Civil War? With baseball, or dance? With mustard? (Really. My friend's daughter once asked if she could learn about mustard!) Choose a science topic that delights your student. White-tailed deer? Volcanoes? Medicine?
- Allow your student the time to delve into a subtopic in which he is interested. The history of fashion, anyone?
- Tailor the subject to suit your child's level of interest. Let your nature-loving son spend two years on high school biology, one year of botany, one year of zoology, so that he can expand on his strengths.
- If there is a writing assignment, help her find a topic that excites her. Last year, Bekah was searching for a topic for a history presentation. She was wavering until the day we were given a stack of wedding magazines and I suggested that she write about the history of wedding gowns. I got "shining eyes" and off she went!
- Play an educational game. Draw a diagram. Watch a movie. Read aloud.
Look for that thing that sparks excitement in your child...and then allow it to happen.
Does that mean that your child must love everything that he does? Not at all. If that were the case, two of my children would never have learned basic math skills. Some may have only learned American history...forget the rest of the world! They may not have chosen to learn to write an essay or make a public speech.
By all means, spread a wide feast of learning.
But whenever you can, aim for shining eyes!
For other posts in this series...