Monday, September 2, 2013

Making Learning Fun: Circus Ponies and Clown Cars?

I've seen a good number of homeschoolers concerned about and devoting an awful lot of time and energy to making school "fun".  In the attempt to engage their young learners and hold their interest and attention (on the curriculum's required topics and subject matter), well-intentioned moms proceed to pull out everything but the circus ponies and clown cars!  The more they give, the more that is expected.  Every day, every week, they strive to find a way to one-up themselves.

And these moms are tired.

Comic from homeschool dad, Todd Wilson.
When I read how much work some homeschoolers do in the name of "making learning fun",  I'll be makes ME feel EXHAUSTED.  And I'm not even there hanging out in their personal three-ring circus.

Don't get me wrong, I spend an inordinate amount of time facilitating my children's interests and passions. Military re-enactments & museums, craft stores, shows & shindigs, researching questions, ponderings, curiosities & video game walk-throughs, reading aloud together, new games, projects & experiments, nature walks & related projects, basketball and hockey practices, games & camps, and an abundance of get-togethers with friends who share in similar interests.  Obviously, somebody has to seek out and be on the look out for these opportunities and experiences. Somebody has to get them there.  Somebody has to pay for the stuff.

And that somebody is me. :)

But I don't focus on making these things fun.  More than that, I am absolutely 100% philosophically opposed to making learning fun.

When learning is real and meaningful, when it has a purpose, when it stems from a child's interests, goals and needs...none of that hoopla is necessary.

Because here's the thing - learning IS fun.  All by itself. On it's own. You don't need to turn it into a three-ring circus.  No bells or whistles.  No circus ponies or clown cars. It.Just.Is.

Instead, take the focus away from trying to *make* something fun and shift it over to your children.  What are they interested in?  What excites them and lights up their eyes?  What topic, subject, project or experience do they not stop talking about, EVER??

Feed these interests. Support their gifts and goals. Facilitate, encourage, and involve. Live together.  Laugh together. Share yourself and your own interests, passions and skills.  Make your children's world just a little bit bigger every week.

And sometime maybe, take a trip to a real circus to see the ponies and clowns...just for fun.