Life is a learning experience. A brief review of the human brain is enough to leave me awestruck. As a parent, and perhaps, particularly as a homeschooling parent, I’m always looking for helpful learning tips. After all, one of our main goals in educating our kids at home is to help them reach their full potentials as children of God. It’s logical to assume that style of learning and supplemental materials would be integral components of the plan — academically speaking, at least.
My kids crack me up when they want me to do things that the local schools are doing but I refuse. For instance, if they see on Snapchat that their friends are having a snow day, they want one too. Um, nope. Sorry. Being that you only have to travel from your bedroom to our classroom downstairs, I really don’t find it necessary. (Okay, before you think me an ogre, I DO surprise them with snow days once in a while. We also take off school for birthdays, which, last time I checked, public schools do not. lol ) With regard to helpful learning tips, there are several things I insist on at home that many people would consider old fashioned.
Nix the calculators
I wrote that subheading, then considered the fact that most people don’t use calculators as separate devices nowadays. Most people (including young children) have smart phones, which contain calculators. The point is, some might think it old fashioned that I do not allow my children to use calculators for mathematics until they master the concept in question. My kids would likely tell you that they hear me say (ad-nauseum) that the point of math is not getting correct answers. Say, what? That’s right. The point of studying math is to know how and why you have arrived at a specific answer.
This is why I insist that my kids use mental math, as well as pencil on paper, to workout problems. Once they show mastery of a concept, I consider allowing them to use a calculator. In fact, I still prefer them to use their brain and a pencil for lower level math. Once we hit pre-Algebra on up, they can breakout their calculators if they convince me that they understand the concepts.
Helping children or crippling them?
My personal favorite school subject has always been English. I enjoy all aspects of it, whether we’re talking grammar, literature, composition or other. I’m the type of person who thinks diagramming sentences is fun. This brings me to my next helpful learning tips that many people might think are old fashioned and outdated: I make my kids diagram sentences.
Just before the time I brought my eldest kids home to start our homeschooling journey, I noticed something. There was a watering-down of teaching/learning taking place in my son’s school that made me uncomfortable. I confirmed my suspicion the day I sent an already corrected paper back to his teacher because she had not corrected his incorrectly spelled words.
Not all helpful learning tips are good
It was a writing assignment. The teacher contacted me and told me that the school was a proponent of “creative spelling.” I had no clue what that was and took the bait by asking for clarification. The teacher explained the school’s philosophy, which was that children’s desire to write might be squelched if we insist on them spelling words correctly. Ugh. (If I were a person who might use expletives, I’d likely add a few there.) Fast forward to 2020.
I believe children can increase and improve their writing skills if they develop clear understanding of sentence structure and syntax. Diagramming is a valuable tool. If you don’t want to diagram, at least insist that your children study grammar and sentence structure. I’ve been told that many schools no longer teach grammar at all. (I’m sure many do, as well.) If your child’s school doesn’t, make it an at-home activity.
Typing isn’t always a good idea
The SAT typically includes essay prompts. Research shows that our brains go through certain processes when we put pen or pencil to paper and write. Getting our thoughts from our brains to the paper isn’t always easy. Studies show that modern generations of students are greatly struggling in this area. The reason? They’ve become accustomed to using computers and keypads to “write.”
As it turns it, that’s not really “writing,” it’s “typing,” and it sparks an entirely different set of brain functions. This post about helpful learning tips is strongly encouraging you to insist that your children write essays “the old fashioned way” (at least, their rough drafts). Students taking SATs were scoring low on the essay portions of the test. Researchers determined that part of the reason was that their brains were not accustomed to processing thoughts through pencil-to-paper writing. I also believe it is greatly beneficial to teach your children how to write and read cursive. This article seems to substantiate such claims.
Final thoughts on helpful learning tips
Inspiring a true love of learning is, perhaps, one of the most important aspects of education. One of the greatest advantages of a homeschooling environment is that the parent-instructor is free to adapt each student’s learning experience to fit his or her needs and help meet his or her ultimate goals. In short, the helpful learning tips that work well in one situation might not be conducive to a positive learning experience in another. However, if you want to give your children an opportunity to reach their full potentials, the tips mentioned in this post are worth a try.
As always, here at Hot Mess Press, we’re interested in what our readers think. Do you have helpful learning tips to share? Leave a comment to let us in on your best kept secrets!