Feb 22, 2011

Piquing Interest in Learning

In an attempt to engage the teens in the house today in a project that I thought they could really get into, I picked a topic that I knew they both would like and added a bit of constructive as well as destructive properties to it.

They began on Brain Pop! watching a video on crystals and completing the quiz together ~ they had one answer that they did not agree on and they both turned out to be incorrect! Then we went to the experiments section and decided to try it out. For a competitive twist I gave KM sugar and DN salt, so they can see whose crystal forms first and what property differences they might have. I also choose to veer of course a bit from the original instructions -- I had them use nearly boiling water, so that it would dissolve to a solution better and they would not need to "shake" every so often. There are plenty of variations of growing crystals with sugar and salt all over the web, just be sure to check the sites before you send your kids there!

Once the jars were set aside to begin growing, I took out some geodes to bash! They had a good deal of success and got out some of those pent up teenage frustrations!

With DN here for the week and learning more about how our household works on a regular basis, this was the perfect opportunity for him to engage in an educational activity where he was interested in the subject and did not feel intimidated by the process or institutional feel of learning. He asked some really great questions and when I wasn't sure on an answer he saw that we could find the answer together. Although he has difficulty admitting it, I could tell that he was enjoying himself and learning at the same time.

Sometimes in order to engage the learner, all you have to do is take advantage of an aforementioned interest area. Paying attention to the actions of a child can pay off in so many ways. Even a child who is extremely resistant to any form of "schooling", "learning" or other educational jargon will give you hints about what might interest them. You may notice that when they are walking to the car and they tend to kick the rock ever so slowly, they always seem to be staring at the ground, you find rocks in the washer and in piles in next to the bed. This is a HUGE indication that for some reason his child is interested in rocks, geology and earth science. Now your challenge will be to present it to the child in a way that will really catch their attention.

Don't push too hard and when the child is done - THEY ARE DONE! Sometimes that means that they will stay on a topic for months and sometimes that means that they are only there for a few days or even hours. Pushing them to continue a study that they are no longer interested in or that they have learned enough about is not going to do anything, but make them more resistant the next time you try a learning sneak attack.

Good Luck and PLEASE feel free to post any helpful tips or ideas for encouraging the resistant learner!

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