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Sometimes I’m asked about how I get my kids to enjoy writing or reading or just learning in general.

I know how hard it can be. I’ve had dyslexic kids, kids with oppositional tendencies, reluctant writers and kids who by nature don’t respond well to traditional methods of learning.

Here’s what I’ve seen in our homeschool over the years: writing, reading or listening is actually the by-product or what happens as PART of the learning process in which the STARTING point is ENGAGEMENT.

Let me give you an example.

Say I want to cover introducing my kids to the artist Claude Monet.

If I was to ask them to read a comprehension passage or pdf and write about Monet or complete a fill in the blank kind of sheet, they’d do it (not necessarily happily) but it would bore them to tears #deathbypdf . It wouldn’t inspire them to think anymore about any thing other than getting through that worksheet as quickly as possible so that they could be done with the ‘boring’ stuff and get to play outside or just move on to the next thing.

So how do you get them to write then? Or read about it? Or just even listen about it? And enjoy it? Isn’t all of that important too?

Yes! It sure is BUT in order for us to talk about that, I have to briefly come back to our vision for our kids in our homeschool.

Racing through content is not our priority.

Ticking boxes is a part of education but it’s not our priority.

Having them complete activities that don’t mean much to them is not our priority.

✅ Engaging their minds is.

✅ Exposing them to great ideas/thinkers/stories/lives is.

✅ Encouraging them to become independent and to think for themselves is.

✅ Growing in faith in authentic ways (loving God and loving people) is.

✅ Inspiring them towards creativity is.

✅ Helping them develop excellent character traits is. ✅ Giving them the time and space to know themselves and develop passions is.

So what does that have to do with getting them to write? EVERYTHING!

See, engagement opens their hearts to these things that are at the central part of our vision. Engaging them means presenting them with fun opportunities, adventures, hands on experiences and taking note of things that they are delighting in.

Back to our Monet example.

🎨 I purchased portable lightweight easels (thanks April).

🖼 I purchased canvasses and new paints (thanks @kendalstnewsagency)

📚 I called the kids to the bookshelves and pulled off a couple books that mentioned Monet.

📍I got their attention and said (excitedly) that we were going to do some painting outdoors. They were all for this.

We sat down together on the rug on the floor as I showed them some examples of Monet’s landscapes and asked what they could see. I used leading questions to get them thinking and talking like, ‘What kind of brushstrokes would you say he’s used?’ or ‘Do you see lots of details or more an impression of an image/place?’ I mentioned the word ‘impressionism’ and read a few short passages about Monet’s life, giving a human face to this historical figure.

I asked one child to pack snacks and another to fill up water bottles. We packed sun hats and headed for a nearby lookout.

We set up our easels (yep I painted right alongside them) and we went for it.

There were conversations as we worked about the horizon line, about colour and about leaving an impression of what we could see on the canvas ‘just like Monet did’ (reinforcing the word and meaning of Impressionism once again).

We took breaks and ate snacks when we felt the need and I had to lie down (ME/CFS means that sometimes I need to stop and rest immediately. Bonus was it meant I took this worm’s eye view photo which I like). When I had more energy, I sat up again, gave the kids notice that we had about 10 minutes of painting time left and we began to get ready to pack up (which the kids did almost without help).

See the whole ‘lesson’ became a vehicle for learning - one based on ENGAGEMENT and CONNECTION. It was less about the artwork and more about the EXPERIENCE.

Forget for a moment about it being an art lesson. It could have easily been a cooking lesson or a science experiment or a lesson about an historical event.

The idea is that ANY kind of topic can be brought to life with the right injection of enthusiasm, ‘together-learning’, hands on experience, encouragement towards creative thinking and independent learning.

When I look back over the points I mentioned as being our priorities, I see that so many of those areas were met through this one activity.

As a bonus, academically the reading, the listening and the writing followed.

The learning happened.

When the kids were younger after an experience (like our outdoor painting trip), I’d take some blank paper and ask them to tell me what they could recall had happened about our adventure. I’d have also asked them to tell me about Monet‘s life and work and as they’d tell me, I’d have written down their words.

Now that they’re old enough they do it themselves however I still find the key is having them respond to prompts or leading questions (rather than looking at a blank page!)

{ I’m going to plug my template packs here which have sheets exactly for this purpose covering historical events, figures, art genres, field trips, science experiments, creative writing etc. $30 will get you ALL the templates from both packs that you can print off a million times over. }

I really hope what I’ve shared here makes sense. Never underestimate the value of engagement and always know your ‘why’. Never written a vision for your homeschool? You can print a FREE template that displays your homeschool vision HERE.

(PS: I know that homeschooling days don’t always go smoothly. I know that despite your best efforts to try and engage your kids, sometimes they don't want to do the things you suggest. I also know that there are seasons in homeschool life and that often younger kiddos are more accepting of ideas. Be patient, friend. Springboard off your kids' interests and continue to build rapport with them. Watch movies with your teen. Invite them to lunch at their favourite cafe. Go for a bushwalk together. Being flexible and having grace is important with any kiddos but especially those who have been in school. You may find Fearless Homeschool’s Deschooling course helpful. Afflink here. ) x

Happy learning and loving, Lusi x

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