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4 Ways to Turn ANYTHING into a Learning Experience

Anything and everything can be a learning moment.  And it’s not as hard as you might think.  Some of my favorite “homeschool lessons” happened by accident.  The most amazing learning opportunities can happen by simply taking advantage of the moment.

These four simple steps can turn any experience into a learning adventure:  

1. Slow Down

We are surrounded by beauty and invitation every day. Take advantage of these moments by slowing down and being present in the moment. Take notice of what is right in front of you, and give your children the freedom to do the same. If you tend to over-schedule, then set aside days (or hours) to just BE.

When you take a walk, stop and look at the plants, insects, and birds around you. When cooking dinner, let your child join you and talk to them about what you are doing together. Take time to stop and smell the roses, and let the moment take you where it will!

2. Ask Questions

Ask questions – lots of them. Encouraging learning is as easy as asking your child questions that make them actively think about what they’re doing in a more focused way.  The phrase “Look at that giraffe’s long neck!” gives information, whereas “Why do you think that giraffe’s neck is so long?” creates curiosity that invites your child to think deeper.

When you ask questions, you are doing more than just embracing the moment; you are teaching them to learn. You are helping them develop the skills to interpret what is around them in a meaningful, thoughtful and intelligent way.

On a recent walk with my youngest three, they pointed out the purple flower at the top of a thistle plant. I began to ask questions that encouraged them to apply information they already knew to what they were experiencing in the moment. Beyond asking them what they noticed about the flower, we began comparing it to what we know about other flowers, which led to more questions and deductive reasoning. We left there with a memorable science lesson that happened in less than five minutes, but will stay with them for a long time.

Questions as simple as “Why do you think that does that?” or “What do you think will happen if…?” can set your children on a path of discovering more.

Photo credit: Bulat Khamitov

3.  Answer Theirs

Kids are naturally curious!  Instead of giving quick answers, indulge their questions.  The best time to teach them about something is when they’re interested in it!

One of my favorite homeschool lessons happened purely by accident.  My kids were playing in the pool on a hot summer morning when my daughter asked, “Why is the sun above us now?  It was over there a little while ago.”   I told them about how the earth orbits the sun.  To illustrate my point, I grabbed a nearby beach ball (the earth) and walked in a large circle around them (the sun).  More questions began to roll out of their bright little minds: “Do we orbit around the moon, too?” “How do we stay on the earth without falling off?”  “Why can’t I feel the earth moving under my feet?”  Soon we were talking about gravitational pull, seasons, and more.  Later in the day, I heard my 4 year old accurately explaining gravity to someone else, using the same props I had used.

That simple observation of the sun turned into a lesson. You don’t have to be a professor full of answers in order to teach your child, you just have to be present and willing to engage.  Had I not been paying attention, I would have missed out on that opportunity.  Instead, today as I was writing this post, the same child who asked about the sun walked into the room and – for fun – I asked her if she could tell me what gravity is.  She didn’t miss a beat, and answered using the same demonstration I gave them that day in the pool two years ago.

4.  Learn Together

One of the biggest myths of homeschooling is that you have to know all of the answers in order to teach your child.  We live in a time where the answers to almost everything are available to us 24/7 on a device we keep in our pocket!  Look up facts together in online searches, watch YouTube videos, read books, PLAY!  One of the benefits of homeschooling is that we get to learn with our children. Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know. Let’s find out!”

Last summer, one of my daughters commented on the sound of the cicadas as we sat on our back deck one evening.  She started to ask me about them, but I knew almost nothing, so I quickly pulled out my phone and we began to learn together.  We saw what they looked like, learned about their lifespan and why they sing.  Over the next couple of weeks, she would find and collect cicada shells, and we talked about where she found them.  (“Why do you think the cicada was here?”)  One morning we were even surprised by a live cicada that joined us for breakfast on our deck!  It stayed put and let the kids observe – and even touch! – it for nearly 20 minutes before it finally flew away. All of this joy and learning began with a simple question one summer evening: “What’s that sound, Mama?”

Enjoy the Journey

Slow down. Ask questions – lots of them – and answer your children’s. Learn together and enjoy the journey.  Learning is fun, and everything can be a learning adventure if we are intentional to embrace the moment!

Learn more about lifestyle learning:

There Is No Box: How Lifestyle Learning Can Bring More Freedom and Joy to Your Homeschool

As homeschoolers, we are often tempted to fit into a box of what learning and results are supposed to look like.  But what if we went off-script and embraced the simple joys of childhood wonder? This ebook takes a look at the heart of education and expounds on the conclusion that, when it comes to learning, there is no box.

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