April 12, 2011

Jump Starting an Interest Led Education

Today I got a great question from a reader (keep them coming!):

What if my kids don't know what they are interested in because they have not really thought about that? How do you get them started on the process of interest led education?
The key to success in an Interest-Led homeschool is opportunity. A child in an empty room will not grow intellectually or socially. You need to make sure he or she has lots of interesting things to choose from. Go to the library at least once a week and let your child check out books and videos. Go to nature preserves and theater productions. Take classes at the park district. Usually something will awaken their curiosty and they can run with it. When that interest grows cold, they can find a new one.
When You Get Stuck
Sometimes you just can't think of anything and everyone seems bored. That's when I got out my copy of The Core Knowledge Curriculum by E.D. Hirsch. Today, thanks to the Internet, you can download it for free! It lists all the things a child at a certain grade level should be learning (according to Mr. Hirsch). Think of it as an educational wish list, not a to-do list. If you try to cover everything on the list at every grade level, you'll probably drive yourself and your kids crazy, but it's a great resource for ideas.
You could even use it as a record-keeping device. Just jot down dates in the margin that reflect when your child covered that topic.

>Download guides for preschool through eighth grade here. 

>Learn more about the Core Knowledge Sequence here.

Remember, these guides are intended for kids in the public school system. It's a way for schools across the US to plug into a common curriculum path. The truth is, not all kids in the 3rd grade learn about the Northwest Passage (as found in the Core Knowledge guide), so don't let this guide freak you out. And even if they do cover it in the 3rd grade, how many remember it by the time they reach high school?

Make your homeschool a fun, active, rich learning environment that follows your child's learning style and interests. And when you need some ideas, glance at the Core Knowledge Sequence.


Rana said...

Jena I happened to see that question on your blog. I have looked through those books at our library. They can be handy when you are not sure where to start.

I also just like to watch and see what my kids happen to be playing with whether it's Lego's or horses. You can take it from there. Go to the library and get books on horses, or check out books on building or go to a horse farm and learn how to raise your own horses.
What do you find they talk a lot about or where do they like to go? The possibilities are endless on getting ideas on where to start just from observing your children.
I miss seeing post from you Jena write some more.

Amy @ Experience Imagination said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you!! We've spent this first year of homeschooling mostly trying to figure out what works best for all of us.

This is a FANTASTIC resource that I didn't know anything about. Thank you!

(And did I mention, "Thank you!") :)

Lori said...

Jena, this was a very good post and I'm sure will be quite helpful for home schoolers who are using an interest-led curriculum!

Cindy Alewine said...

I appreciate this post so much! I have wanted to do more interest-led learning, and we have begun, but I was concerned about what we should do in subjects they didn't care about. I have been using our state performance standards as a guideline. When I read this, it really made me feel better about doing that. I do have to keep reminding myself that we don't have to do everything on there and THAT is a relief!

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