Thursday, February 3, 2011

Teaching Every Day

For Christmas (yep, I am still catching up on my blog) I went to my husband's office and printed some worksheets for Ty and Za. They were simple activities, like the letter 'C' and a cookie. Then I went to an office store and bought two folders and sticker books on clearance. These folders went over huge with the kids and we work on the pictures and alphabet letters together throughout our days.

Note the doggie paws and ears - not part of the present.

I don't have a printer at my house, so I cannot print worksheets and lesson plans for what so many think of as standard teaching. I teach my kids every day, intentionally or just through example. I try to share my successes and failures with my blog world. I think when parents reflect together it is much like when teachers do, and that can create wonderful results. Printing off worksheets as Christmas presents got me thinking (ok, reflecting) about my reasoning behind my approach.

I look for everyday, simple, run-of-the-mill, natural parts of life to be teaching moments. I understand formal lesson plans that are out there for parents to do with their kids. The plans are well developed, creative, detailed, and educational. I sometimes do them with my kids. I see their purpose and I am grateful for them.

This blog does not focus on formal plans for parents to do with their children. Instead, this blog focuses on every room being a classroom because I believe that teaching kids from your environment is possible and important, for several reasons:

1. I dislike the idea that learning and teaching stops when a bell rings. In the same way, I don't like the idea that when I finish a lesson plan with my child, he gets up from the table and thinks learning is done. Learning is everywhere, and I try to point that out with my children.

2.   When concepts (language, math, science, history) are part of every day life, children are less likely to see them as subjects. For instance, if a parent is a doctor and a child grows up hearing the proper anatomical, surgical, and pharmaceutical terms, he will be less intimidated in fifteen years when he takes advanced science courses, like anatomy. In the same way, I hope that when my child hears the literary term 'protagonist' for the first time, he is comfortable with the word, as I have mentioned it in our reading together.

3. Not all aspects of learning are fun, but children need a desire for learning. Memorizing and knowing basic facts play an important role in education. (I disliked studying the multiplication tables, but I am very happy that I memorized them). Education needs a balance - it cannot be fun all the time, but learning overall is interesting. I don't feel the need to complete formal lessons with my children yet (they are four and two) but realize the time will come when I sit down with them to memorize from flashcards. I hope to create an energy in them that stays with them for life.

Basically, I think formal and informal lesson plans have a place while working with your children. What do you think about formal vs. informal lessons? Is it possible to have a balance?