Learning with Meaningful Activities

Meaningful activities are a great way to teach concepts — especially those that are currently resonating with the learner. Over the years we have accumulated dozens of learning lifestyle activities for a variety of interests — everything from playing a harmonica to filling out a form. Still, some have wondered, “What’s with all of the activities?”

There is an understandable concern that without a plan or some type of structure, learning will be overly “fun.” You’ll find that we support the work of learning. But this construct isn’t the point at all. Given that the student is exercising the work of learning, and given that the student has a current interest, then an activity is one way to learn.

Maximum learning is always the result of maximum involvement. We said this was true with one condition: The activity must be meaningful.

Teaching to Change Lives by Dr. Howard Hendricks

So what type of activities are meaningful?

Mentor Instead of Teach

The one that does the learning learns the most. Sometimes we homeschool moms have a way of over-organizing everything. We can get hung up on “but today we were supposed to study the Romans!” But in the learning process, we really need to get out of the way and let it happen. Be there. Pull things out of the child. Ask questions. But let the student work it out for himself.

Obviously, the younger the child the more direction he will need. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that in the end we want them to be able to learn anything for themselves.

More thoughts.

Focus on Application

What does he know? What skills has he learned that he can bring to the table? We can’t open up the brain and dump things in. It doesn’t take in the long term. But what bubbles up and out from inside does last. And it is that enthusiasm and interest we want to draw on to encourage the self-learner.

Be Purposeful

You know all of those free worksheets? Well. Too many of those will kill a few things. Yes, everything in its place, but I’m referring to an overabundance of busywork:

Don’t involve learners in activities for which there’s no meaningful objective. There’s nothing a human being resents more than busywork…. [A]sk yourself, “What’s my objective” What’s to be accomplished by reading those books or doing that research or writing those reports? Do more words written and more books read make an education better? Or do we have those requirements simply because we’ve always had them? Many things done in the name of scholarship are meaningless.

Teaching to Change Lives

The best type of learning touches a student at the point of real life.

Process vs. Product

If I tell you what to do, you learn to do that one thing.

If I tell you what process I will use to do a thing, you learn a system that you can tweak and apply to nearly anything. Not only that, by using and moving forward with the process, you will likely exceed me.

Process vs. Product
If you focus on the process, the product will come.

Keep it Real

As mentioned above when something is needful in real life it has an import all of its own. Students want to know things. So ask:

  • What do you want to know?
  • How will you learn it?

Help her make a plan. Provide the resources necessary. Then get out of the way. The way it typically works is that the student will want nothing better than to tell you everything they just learned. Be there to listen. Spur further research. What else would they like to know, now that they have started?

So, what is with all of the activities? Ways to help you encourage a learning lifestyle for your children!

Additional Resources

Activities Archives
Dozens to get you started.

5 Steps to Developing a Lifelong Learner
Elements to focus on when developing a lifelong learner who can learn anything for themselves!

The Delight-Directed Approach
A learning lifestyle pulls heavily on the delight of the learner.

14 Ways to Plan Studies Around an Interest
Suggestions and resources.

6 Ways to Encourage Your Children to Pursue Their Interests
More ways to make it happen.

Skill Subjects vs. Content Subjects {The Key to Simplifying}
This is a crucial understanding for keeping structure while encouraging a learning lifestyle.

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Three goals of teaching: teach students how to think, how to learn, and how to work independently.

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