“Disguised Learning” Just Sits Wrong With Me

Kids Gardening has a new article about ‘disguised learning’ and just reading the title made me cringe. Immediately the question flew into my mind…Why must we disguise learning? Is that like hiding zucchini in the spaghetti sauce?

According to Karen Hickmott, at Myers Action Institute, disguised learning means “the students have so much fun while learning they do not realize they are strengthening their academic skills.”

So is strengthening our academic skills something that a child would intentionally avoid? Maybe, if clothed in those words, which are incredibly boring…strengthening…academic…skills.

Say it that way and I’d be bored and avoiding it too.

When Did Learning and School Become A Term to be Avoided?

Emily has no preconceptions of learning and schooling – such is the beauty of starting homeschool from the very beginning. The other day she said, “Sorry Mama, but I need to do my homework now.”

I think she was apologizing in advance for the noise. Emily views homework as fun – and that’s because in her case it is. Her version of homework is turning on the decrepit, overly-loud typewriter that sits in one corner of my office and typing away on it for half an hour. She then gives me pages and pages of nonsense. She’s experimenting while she’s doing this. With red ink and black ink, with the parameters of margins, upper and lower case letters as well as symbols, and the process of unsticking the keys when she gets too exuberant.

Our first, rather disastrous, week of homeschool has faded. She usually doesn’t argue when I suggest we do a little homeschool. Usually because I follow it up with, “What would you like to study? We could look at a Hello Math Reader, or do some science, or look at the maps.”

My first spinach salad

You know how you can sense when something is off with your parents? When something isn’t quite right? When they are plotting against you?

I remember having that feeling as a child one night when we sat down to dinner. In front of me was a salad, which I like, but the lettuce was unfamiliar and slightly bitter. I ate it anyway, and it was acceptable to my tastes. As I popped a forkful in my mouth, my mom had a sly grin on her face, “Do you like the salad?”

“Sure,” I answered warily, wondering what was coming next.

“It’s spinach!” She said, with the air of having pulled off a great trick at my expense.

I remember shrugging and continuing to eat. Perhaps this is why I’ve never particularly liked to try and sneak vegetables into foods. I figure a kid has the same rights as anyone, to try something and make a decision on whether or not they are willing to eat it. If she had simply asked me to try it, I would have. I didn’t need to be tricked into it.

Kids should try new things – and we should figure out honest ways of appealing to them to do so – instead of tricking them into it.

Mutual Respect

Here is a heretical thought…how about some mutual respect? If there is something that you think your child would be interested in, and learn from, show interest in it yourself. I did this with Schoolhouse Rock and the days that followed were filled with the tunes of Schoolhouse Rock as Emily sucked up the different songs, playing them over and over.

But what if your child isn’t interested? Not the least bit?

I’m learning to walk away, let it go, let her determine her own path. I will continue this course of action as long as I see growth and learning. And so far? The growth and learning has exceeded my expectations by leaps and bounds.

This may seem simplistic. It may seem impossible. And maybe it won’t work for you and your child. But I would suggest giving it a few tries.

That’s all I’ve got for today…besides the homeschool log below, that is. Happy Homeschooling!

Homeschool Log for 8/23/11

Foreign Language – We counted from 1-10 in Spanish today. I wish I could say we did more, but the day kind of got away from me.

Language Arts – Emily helped me read a School Zone Learn-to-Read book I Want a New Pet. She did this somewhat reluctantly, and still seems to be stressed out at the idea. I keep it simple, reading most of the book and sticking to a small handful of words that I ask her to sound out for me. She still wants to guess, and I’m hoping that goes away with continued success. I think that we will practice word families tomorrow (-an for example, tan, pan, fan, etc). Perhaps that will help.

Social Studies – I read D is for Drum to Emily – an alphabet of Indian items and names. K for Kachina, A for Anasazi, and more. Emily was resistant, which I think was due in part to my telling her she couldn’t watch any more television right then. I stayed patient, however, and instead of reading the book verbatim, I pointed at some of the pictures and engaged her in discussion about it. This helped, and maintained her interest through most of the book.

Science – We sat down and watched Sid the Science Kid Bug Club video. This held her interest for the most part, but there was a point when she asked me to pause the video so that I could read a book to her. That ended up being the learn to read book I mentioned in Language Arts.

Phys Ed – Emily played outside with our across the street neighbors for about an hour.

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