Inspiring learners is what we do best at The Inspired Scholar. We know that inspired students learn. Children start out in life on fire for learning. They ask questions and absorb everything in their environment. It is our aim to keep that fire lit.
What does it mean to be inspired?
The 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language declares :
informed or directed by the Holy Spirit
The Merriam-Webster online explains:
the action or power of moving the emotions.
A Christian cannot do better than to begin by praying and asking for wisdom in regard to his child’s inner workings. After all, God made him or her. A little insight will go a long ways. But everyone experiences a lack of motivation at times, so we offer you five ways to keep your children inspired in the work of learning.
1. Use their interests
Who doesn't like to spend more time on what they are interested in? In a tutoring situation, when I am faced with a student who really dislikes writing, I often start by having him or her make a list of 10 or 12 of their interests. I encourage choices and let them write on one of their interests. Instantly, writing becomes that much easier and less of a burden. This applies to other subjects, too. When studying science or history, for example, allow a choice of topics or eras as much as possible. Allow some choice in in how they will demonstrate their learning. Written tests are only one of many assessment tools. Choice is key in inspiring learners.
2. Field Trips
Children needs lot of input for their brain and getting outdoors and taking trips to new places is an important vehicle for learning about the world, an impetus for conversation , and necessary for developing observations and opinions about the world. Field trips can be with a group or homeschool co-op, but I also consider family outings, field trips.
A field trip need not be far away or expensive. Start with your own hometown. Most people do not really know their own area as much as they might think. While living in Arizona, it never ceased to amaze me the number of people who had never visited the Grand Canyon, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World!
Seek out places to go as if you were a tourist. While visiting our family we learned of a couple of historic estates with art museums and gardens. Additionally, we visited some lighthouses for the very first time and they always have some fascinating history!
3. Take a break
Yes, a break can be motivating, because we all need to "do nothing" sometimes to renew our minds and bodies. This is especially true if you are constantly busy. Kids and adults need down time, too. Take, as needed.
Taking a break might not mean "doing nothing" but instead, doing things differently, in a different order or with different people or a new routine.
4. A different teacher
Each teacher has something unique to offer. No matter how expert a homeschool parent may be at teaching a particular subject, a new perspective from an "outsider" can infuse a student with new enthusiasm in their learning journey. Other teachers have their own experiences to share with students and a different way to approach their subject.
Choice gives a person a feeling of control over their lives. It is something everyone appreciates. It is also an important part of the adult world, so children need opportunities to make good choices. As much as possible (and age-appropriate) allow your child to make their schedule. They will learn through trial and error what is a realistic schedule and what is not achievable (at least for them at this time). Some are naturally early birds and others perk up later in the day. That should be taken into account when planning the day.
Young people could also choose the days of the week and months of the year that they will study. Perhaps they can help choose the curriculum or subjects. We all like choices and children will be more cooperative when their input is included.
Many educational approaches exist today and this is nowhere more true than in homeschooling circles. One of the most enduring is an approach advocated by Charlotte Mason. Because she addresses the whole child and not just academics, I favor her methods and ideas. This summer I will explore one of Miss Mason's twenty basic principles to help infuse your parenting and homeschooling with power and purpose.
Charlotte Mason was an educator in the 19th century who understood children and held a high regard for them as intelligent persons that needed guidance, training, and an education that used the best educational "food."
She wrote a six-volume series of books called the Home Education Series. In these books, she explores these principles in depth. However, because she lived in the 19th century, her Victorian language can be difficult for some, and although the books are worth the time to read, frankly, many parents just cannot spare it. With that in mind, Leslie Noelani Laurio wrote an excellent sentence-by-sentence translation in modern English. She also has a paragraph- by-paragraph condensed version. Mason's ideas and principles are not a curriculum but a way of approaching the instruction of children.
Some other books that distill her ideas can be found here:
A Charlotte Mason Companaion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning by Karen Andreola
A Charlotte Mason Education: A Homeschooling How-To Manual and More A Charlotte Mason Education, both by Catherine Levison
Now, let's take the fast track to learning her foundational principles here this summer by reading this synopsis. What an inspirational summer study for homeschool parents to reflect on and gear up for a new school year!
Where will you find me when I am not teaching?
For your reading pleasure!