Living Learning

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Yesterday I was asked by another homeschool parent, while participating in an online discussion, “how do you get your kids to love reading?”…which made me think, how do I do it?

The honest answer is that we live a life of learning.

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As I thought over the priorities we have in life I realized that this has nothing to do with homeschooling and everything to do with how we live our life. Anyone can do it, homeschoolers, public schoolers, after schoolers, private schoolers, unmarried adults…anyone can have a life based on learning!

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Anyone can follow their interests, anyone can learn to love learning… Your probably learning all the time without even realizing it!

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So what does it entail? How do you teach this to your kids? How do take advantage of a learning lifestyle?

1) Explore! Take the time to explore your curiosities, area, and talents! Find you tube videos or online courses that will teach you for free something you have always wanted to learn. Try new things, who knows maybe your a natural with woodworking! Discover things for yourself and bring your kids along. Show them that trying out new things can be fun. Spend a day driving around ( or an afternoon checking out maps of your area) because you never know what you will find in your back yard!

We found a county park that is a working farm based on the depression era agricultural business model… The kids had a BLAST, even though it was freezing! I found this little park while messing around on google maps and it’s less than a mile from where we do piano lessons!

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2) DO!!! Don’t make excuses, go out and take advantage of the area around you! We have lived in big cities and small towns, ten minutes from amazing museums and hours away from all the big stuff but no matter where you are there are always learning opportunities if you are willing to go out and make them. It’s all about how you look at your environment, how you speak to your children (or mentally to yourself!) and how often you act. In this Pinterest driven generation mothers (everyone really) the ideas are easy to find, easy to hoard but not always easy to get going. So this part is going to require you to roll up your sleeves and just get to it!

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3) Talk! Talk to other people about the things you enjoy doing, you never know what awesome event you didn’t know (or class, or place…) exists just around the corner. Talk to your kids about everything… All the time. Use regular language, ask open ended questions, ask questions you don’t know the answer to, use words they don’t understand in everyday language and encourage them to talk back! (Reading counts for this as well, read, read, read and when your done reading have them read! If they can’t read yet have them make up stories to go with the pictures, that way every book is a new adventure! I have a bunch of ideas about reading but I’ll save that for another post!)

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4) Slow Down… I think this is the hardest part of the list. We live in a busy world filled with fast tracks and fast food. How often have you taken the time, I mean really prioritized the time to look at the stars? Watch the birds? Notice what bugs actually live in the dirt next to your front door? Have you ever searched for owl pellets or tadpoles? You don’t have to be home all day to do it… We have spent five minutes looking up at the stars as we come home from an evening activity and watched the birds soar from our spots at a red light! When it rains, instead of running to the nearest shelter, grab an umbrella and look at the sidewalk because you may be able to save a few earthworms trying to cross the expanse! If your interest is art consider finding patterns in the shadows near your desk! If you love food try to take the chance to try creating a new culinary masterpiece on a Saturday afternoon… Go for it, you have the time.

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5) Take Advantage of the Technology in your Hands! My phone is our lifeline! I cannot count how often the kids have asked a wild question that throws me for a loop while we are in the grocery store, car or even in the bathroom at Target! At that moment I have no clue how to answer, I am nowhere near our pile of books and I know that if I answer the question it will fuel more questions … but that’s exactly what I want! More questions, yes!!! School boards talk about STEM and having the latest and greatest technologies in classrooms to build better environments for students but with out curiosity and an open discussion environment how will you get them to ask the questions that matter? Yet if your response is always let look that up later and then you never get around to it, are you helping the situation? Some people have their phones filled with games or music… Mine is filled with educational apps. I have encyclopedias, safari, periodic tables, nature handbooks, star guides, google earth, and educational games galore! (I recognize that not everyone has a smart phone but if you don’t at least have a notepad available to write the questions down so that you can & will look the answers up later.)

Learning does not require classes, textbooks and dry problem solving… Use the world around you, ask questions, act on ideas, and live learning purposefully! After all, we learn something new everyday!

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