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Adventurous Elementary Education

Adventurous Elementary Education

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“When students discover knowledge for themselves, what they learn lasts a lifetime.”
“When students discover knowledge for themselves, what they learn lasts a lifetime.”

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Published by: The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine on Jun 10, 2013
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07/20/2014

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Adventurous Elementary Education
 
By Lindy Abbott
 
Learning should be exciting, but few students are enthusiastic about school. Manyadults, recalling their school experience, realize they learned more after they were
out 
of school. As homeschoolers we can do things differently by providing moreopportunities for real learning. Elementary years should be adventure years instead
of drudgery. I consistently reminded my children, “Be your utmost for God’shighest.” I have tri
ed to provide the richest environments, opportunities, andresources within our means, but I foolishly adhered to graded-schooling methods.While my underlying goal was to equip my children to become the person Godcreated each one to be, my daily lesson plans did not support this goal.
Every now and then a nonconformist soul dared to ask: “Why must we do school?What is the purpose or goal? Can we try something different?” Thankfully, I began to
question my method of teaching my children.Traditional elementary schools condition children to succumb to group culture bycoloring within the lines, thinking inside the box, responding to bells, and copying a
teacher’s model. Parents desiring to help their child become who God created them
to be should not tr
y to emulate conventional schooling, because it reduces a child’s
natural passion, innovation, and industry. Let me explain.
 
The concept of dividing schooling into grade levels became necessary withcompulsory school attendance. Categorization of the mass population of children byage and grade level was beneficial to the organization of school systems. Think aboutit: Does it really matter what you call the grade level as long as your child islearning?With the creation of grade levels, book publishers developed graded textbooks
specifically produced for the “typical” age of development and interest. One problemwith this system is that God does not form “typical” infants within a mother’s womb.
In a homeschool, grade-level materials are unnecessary and frequently aredevelopmentally inappropriate. Undoubtedly, early elementary years are the time toteach a sound foundation in reading, writing, and math. Once these basic buildingblocks of learning are established, children should explore what they enjoy throughself-motivated study.
 
Consider this question: Does God create a typical snowflake, fingerprint, or DNA?Every parent knows that no two children are alike; moreover, they have wide rangesof development, ability, interest, and personality. Jeremiah 29:11 proclaims,
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,‟ saith the L
ORD
 , „thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” 
This commonly quoted verse that Godspoke to the Israelites when they were in exile reveals His character and encouragesbelievers to look with hope toward our God-designed purpose. Parents should apply
this Biblical teaching to their children’s homeschooling and try to create wonderfuladventure years of learning by not focusing on “grade level”!
If a child is going to discover what he loves, he must have (1) numerous real-lifeexperiences to identify his niche and (2) time to thoroughly delve into any subject.
 
Most states have legally required credits and specific coursework that must be takenduring high school, but few states have strict requirements for the elementary years.While for state records we must follow the charade of saying our child is in fourth,fifth, or sixth grade, parents should
with gusto
use the freedom allowed inelementary years to liberate their children from grade levels created by and foreducational systems. We all know from personal experience how dull and repetitivegrade-level schooling can be. Subjects are covered in broad topics and separatedinto daily lessons for a scheduled amount of time. Diligent students develop short-term memory skills to recall facts (year after year) for testing, not for learning.Similarly, a child memorizing random individual Bible verses to be checked off for aprogram does not produce long-term
results. A child may have “memorized” 
hundreds of verses but years later can recall only a handful. Parents need toencourage their child to enjoy the experience of studying in-depth, an essential lifeskill for both inductive Bible study and specializing in a career.
Neurological scientists have discovered that a child’s brain continually develops
neurological pathways during the tween to early teen years. Consequently, the brainis best suited for development
prior 
to the pruning stage of development, whichbegins during upper teenage years. Think about pruning a tree of dead overgrowthand stems that stop growing. The brain, likewise, prunes areas of the brain that arenot being used. Neurologically, the elementary student is prime for exploring endlessactivities, unlimited topics, and an assortment of learning styles.
1
I am learning totrust both God and our children in tailoring their education plan.
 
Fortunately, as homeschool parents, we can break the traditional schooling mold byoffering our child time to become a self-taught person
the key to lifelong learning.By reducing or eliminating the need for most textbooks, workbooks, and made-for-school assignments, homeschooling parents can give their children large spans of time for pursuing interests and growing in their God-given abilities. A child can coverscience, math, and language arts through an assortment of interests. For example, ascience course can be any combination of astronomy, chemistry, botany, animals,electricity, geology, or compute
r science. Thereby, we can reinforce our child’s
natural inquisitiveness and encourage his dreams.My daughter loves to read and write. She is only 14, but for the past two years shehas been writing several fiction novels. This year, I have her working with a college
student who is earning her master’s degree in English. The two of them meet bi
-weekly to discuss characterization, plot development, and writing skills. Since my
daughter’s novel is about a girl with a rare illness, she is going to meet wit
h ourfamily doctor and a counselor to research patient care, in order to make the storyrealistic. This is not a carefully crafted school assignment. It is so much better; it is areal-life experience of mutually working with another writer!When students discover knowledge for themselves, what they learn lasts a lifetime.Through the development of genuine self-esteem, children pursue interests thatdelight and intrigue them, as they become who God created them to be.Endnote:
 
1. Strauch, Barbara.
The Primal Teen: What the New Discoveries About the TeenageBrain Tell Us.
AnchorBooks; NY, 2003.
 
 
 
Sidebar:
 
We need to help our children identify their God-given passions. To stimulate theirinner drive to learn, try some of the following ideas.
 
The Great Outdoors
The majority of us spend way too much time inside, using
electronic devices. Every child needs a few hours daily to explore God’s marvelous
world, regardless of the weather. Nature is a place for children to take leaps betweenwhat they know and what could be. Learning through exploration of nature isconducive to testing hypotheses. Encourage your children to self-direct their timeoutdoors.
Nature Journaling
Nature journaling is a worthwhile experience that heightensperception and awareness. Your child will naturally gain insights and skills related toscience, drawing, creative writing, natural history, and journaling, and hisobservations will teach him more about God and His creations as well. I keep thisbook handy:
Keeping a Nature Journal: Discover a Whole New Way of Seeingthe World Around You
byClare Walker LeslieandCharles E. Roth.I purchased an art paper-quality sketchpad, colored pencils, drawing pencils, and an art eraser for
my children’s use. (Hint: Use of watercolor pe
ncils provides the option of a paintedeffect.)
 
Entrepreneur 
Learning about creative ways to earn money can be fun and canprovide good training for the future. One of the serious problems facing the U.S.today is that we have too many takers and too few makers. Parents can have funteaching children to produce needed products and how to market them. I learn a lotfrom
Entrepreneur 
magazine, which showcases successful business owners andprovides many ideas about selling products online. Many gift shops at tourist sitessell homemade products, and so do most town square shops in smaller cities.
Handyman/Woodworking
Many books and magazines provide ideas for simpleprojects. I have enjoyed
The Family Handyman
,
a do-it-yourself homeimprovement magazine (
www.familyhandyman.com
). The benefits of learning, ata young age, to be self-sufficient make the investment of purchasing these tools andmaterials worthwhile. Work alongside your child in the beginning, and in the end youwill be glad you took the time, because your skilled children can use that knowledgeand experience to serve your household. Currently, my son is building bookcases forour family.
 
Computer Skills/Programs/Web Design
In the twenty-first century, you can findalmost any kind of information on your computer; computer skills are both essentialand profitable. Help your children master frequently used computer programs for
photo editing, writing, data organizing, publishing, and design. Look at “how to use” 
books that teach step by step in easy to follow instructions.
Lindy Abbott is a passionate follower of Jesus with a strong understanding of theBiblical, Christian worldview. She is a certified teacher and a homeschool moms of three teens. From childhood, she discovered writing as her way to express what shefelt and learned. Lindy is a published author, freelance writer, editor of a homeschool newsletter, and avid blogger. Read her regular post at  

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