Monday, May 18, 2009

Assessing Your Child's Learning

One of the goals of many home school parents is for their children to learn to think, not just spit back information.  How do you gauge true learning and encourage high thinking skills?  I'd like to introduce one tool you may find helpful in achieving these goals.  A professor named Bloom, who led a group of educational psychologists, came up with a scale we can use to understand the level of difficulty in our students' thinking.  It's called Bloom's Taxonomy.  Although some consider his work  controversial, I think that when used properly, this particular scale is still useful as an illustration of the various depths of learning. Below are both his scale, and the newly updated scale... (the updated scale changed from nouns to verbs and switched the top two components)

Original Version :

Monday, May 11, 2009

Outdoor Learning

Reading through "Home Education," by Charlotte Mason impressed me with the importance for children to spend quality time outdoors. "Never be within doors when you can rightly be without." She encourages mothers to secure their children with quiet growing time and plenty of fresh air. Actually, she encourages moms to dedicate much of the afternoon to outdoor time. Children may run and romp around, making noise and having fun. When they come back to Mom, she may send them on a "sight seeing" expedition to see who can see the most and tell the most about such and such. This exercise (which is play to the children) helps train their observation skills, perceptive power, vocabulary and ideas. She encourages lavish descriptions and children learn the art of discriminating observation. Children build up a series of familiar images in their mind, and learn to really see and enjoy their environment. In later schooling years, he'll learn facts about familiar things, rather than facts about things he's never seen or noticed before. His familiar images will also help him imagine those things that he hasn't seen, by comparing them to the familiar.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Natural Learning

You may recall the story of the blind-deaf girl, Helen Keller... She was trapped in her own mind, with no real means of communicating with the world around her until she was nearly seven years old. She says she "felt as if invisible hands were holding (her), and (she) made frantic efforts to free (herself),"1:14 and that the day her teacher came to her was the most important day of her life... that language "awakened (her) soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it free!"1:17,20 Helen's teacher, Anne Sullivan, helped her break down the barrier, bit by bit, until her mind was free to communicate and express itself fully. If you've read any of Helen's writing, you'll see that as an adult she had a very fluent, impressive command of the English language, and that she seems to be very well educated. 

What does this have to do with home schooling? Well, in a sense, everything. How did Helen transform from being unruly and unreachable, into a sweet, giving, good-natured, insightful, educated young woman? That's what I'd like to take a closer look at. I enjoyed reading Helen's story, as told by herself, but even more so as told by her teacher, who gives many details (that Helen likely forgot or didn't particularly make note of) concerning the day-to-day activities and methods used to reach and teach Helen. Many of Anne's discoveries parallel what home schoolers today are independently finding to be educational jewels for their own children.