How to Help Your Children Observe, Understand, and Make Connections
- Jane Lambert Home Educating Family Magazine
- 2014 22 Aug
Wherever homeschoolers get together they love to talk about curricula, ways to organize, and teaching methods—and that is good. You will need good materials, ways to keep things straight, and an understanding that children don’t all learn the way you do, nor do they learn just like each other.
Underlying all of these things, you’ll also want to begin with the firm belief that learning is a joy! If you decide to homeschool your own children, you will have the amazing opportunity to open up to them many parts of the world that the Lord has made! All of the subjects you will teach exist because God has created the substance of those subjects.
It is an extraordinary privilege to be the person who presents these wonders to your children. With him your teaching opens up worlds of history, science, literature, math, geography—and does it with a creative excitement that traditional classroom schooling could never achieve.
And while there is curriculum, organization, teaching methods, and great joy in lesson presentations, there is something else that happens as you teach. It is something that you can witness take hold of your students and grow in them. It is something that has unlimited potential to expand your children’s education and enrich their lives.
The Importance of Teaching Observation
This “something” is the development of the powers of observation and the ability to synthesize input—make connections. Lead your children to become better observers of all that is around them. Then help them connect the various “pieces” of educational information, biblical knowledge, and what they witness in their surroundings.
Lead your students to see their world—to make observations—and you will recognize benefits. The more your students see, the more they will be filled with wonder and have an increased desire to learn. Students who have increasing skills of observation will have more ability to access life happenings, and will have a better sense of safety. (For instance, spying a long cord on the floor and stepping over is far better than missing it and tripping.) Good observers notice people and how they feel—what’s happening with them. They are conscious of beautiful sunsets and discover that particular cabinet door that needs fixing. Opportunities for observation are everywhere and yet many young people move through life like they are in some kind of fog. Homeschooling is the perfect environment to bring some “vision” back into young eyes.
Just as observations can be encouraged, so, too, can connections. Connections are comparing one thing with another, understanding how things are alike or different, or understanding how one thing fits with or is impacted by another. Students who are encouraged to connect the elements of one subject to another experience a broadening of both subjects. These pupils will say things like, “Oh, I get it. That reminds me of….” or “It’s similar to what we learned last year,” or “These two ideas go together and complement each other.”
Younger students might not use a word like complement. You might hear them say something like, “Hey, when I put these two ideas together, it makes a bigger idea!” The more students grow in being able to connect ideas, thoughts, theories, and facts, the greater understanding they gain regarding their world. College work requires a substantial amount of compare/contrast thinking. Why wait? How wonderful, if the skills of observation and making connections is something that has been built right into your teaching from the beginning!
Being a Model for Your Students
Here is an inspiration for you as a teacher, leader, and presenter: It is to be a model for your students. As a model you are observant yourself! You notice details around you and point them out. You ask your students, “Did you see that…? I wonder why this is? I almost missed catching that detail!” Then you can also watch for times to encourage your students when they have seen something special. “What a good observer you are!” or “I didn’t see that,” or “Thank you for pointing out that feature. I love that!”
In the same way, you model making good connections. You look for ways to compare what you are sharing and teaching in one topic to its use or value in another topic.
Again, give credit when you see your children do the same. “Wow, you made that connection, and I didn’t teach you that. You are really thinking for yourself!”
There may be some who are super-gifted with abilities to observe and connect, but everyone can benefit by increasing their own skills. Teachers and students alike will find their lives made richer by learning to see details of life, and to understand with greater clarity how things fit together. Homeschooling is the perfect environment to put some “sight” back in young eyes and greater “understanding of the world” back into young hearts each day as an integral part of learning the basics.
Before you teach your lessons, spend a little time considering what is amazing about the lesson you are about to present. Real teaching, true education, isn’t something to race through or to check off, but rather to explore and enjoy as you are captivated by the awesome, incredible topics and themes just waiting to be discovered and shared.
Pause and ponder how your subject of the day fits with the other subjects, or how it fits into past studies. Think, along with your students, and together observe the details and search for the connections. It is your opportunity to reap a rich and satisfying education for both yourself and those you teach.
© 2014 by Home Educating Family Association. All rights reserved. Used with permission. Originally published in 2014 Issue 2 of Home Educating Family Magazine, the publication with the most meaningful discussions taking place in the homeschooling community today. Visit hedua.com to read back issues and for more articles, product reviews, and media.
A third-generation educator, Jane Claire made the decision to begin homeschooling her own two children in 1981. Having met only one homeschooler at the time and with almost no homeschool curriculum available for purchase, Jane began developing her own unique teaching style centering around great children’s books and a highly interactive approach to learning. Today Jane continues to encourage homeschoolers worldwide through her multiple award-winning Five in a Row curriculum while enjoying her five grandchildren who all live less than ten minutes from her home.
Publication date: August 22, 2014