“What did you read about today at work, Dad?”
This has become a frequent question asked over supper as we gather around the table with Daddy. Or during a card game after work. Or randomly throughout the day.
At this time, Daddy shares with the kids and myself what he read that day in his National Geographic History magazine at lunch time or the web article he read at work. For a week, he and the oldest kids even had nightly conversations about the next section of the article about the Children’s Crusade. This was their nightly ritual. Sometimes we read picture books like “normal” kids, but other times we talk about historical events from centuries ago.
While these are definitely not conversations unique to only homeschool families, I feel that it’s more common among homeschoolers to choose to be intentional with the learning opportunities. Turn off the car radio and talk about the book you just finished. Put up the phones at supper and discuss your day. Go for a walk and leave the headphones at home.
No matter the school choice of our families, these moments should be embraced. Let them “count” as learning.
For our family, school does not only happen Monday to Friday, 8 to 5. For us, it is a lifestyle and includes everything happening in our lives. When you start to look at all your moments with eyes open to see ALL the opportunities, you realize that the kids don’t have to think in terms of “school” if Mom and Dad don’t point out the distinction. If you never turn on school time, you don’t ever have to turn it off.
Any minutes we are with our kids are a potential chance for conversation. Chances to ask opinions, to be patient with ever more questions, and to consider everything our kids’ minds are processing no matter how small, silly, or insignificant they seem. Or inconvenient. Oh, how often the questions come at a less-than-perfect moment. All of these show their minds are engaged at all times. Kids don’t choose to stop learning.
If we want our children to become life-long learners, they need to see us modelling life-long learning in our adult lives. They will mimic us, the good and the bad. Adults often discuss and bounce ideas off each other. Unfortunately, most of those moments only happen with coworkers or when the kids have been dismissed from the table or in our adult-world situations. Invite them into the conversation and into our world.
Like the kids, grown-ups are always learning new approaches for work, skills for at home hobbies, and reading for pleasure. We need to remember to see it that way. Let’s make sure we are always learning of something worthwhile. Do it where the kids see us doing it.
The dinner table is a great place for these impromptu learning talks because the kids, who like to interrupt every adult conversation anyway, get to hear and become interested in grown up talks. Use this time to show them that learning doesn’t stop when you graduate. Also, this is a great time for homeschool dads to jump in and take over a teaching moment, no planning needed.
This is a two-way street. Don’t forget to have the kids reciprocate the moment and tell Dad what they learned that day as well! If we don’t pay attention to the kids when they want to tell us about their day, they might quit telling us because we don’t seem to value their conversation.
Try some of these out over supper:
- What is happening in the world?
- What news article was in your feed today?
- What YouTube video did you use late last night to learn how to fix something?
- What Wikipedia article did you have to reference at work?
- What did you learn about our next vacation location?
- What historical fact did you connect in your Bible study this morning?
- Who is your favorite character in the book you’re reading?
Be intentional. We should open our eyes to these opportunities to have some meaningful conversations with our kids, no matter their age. Like them, we should be learning something every day. If we want our kids to narrate back to us what they are reading, absorbing, and processing, let’s apply the same to ourselves.
PS: This applies to grandparents, aunts and uncles, neighbors, and family friends. If you have kids in your life, bring them into it and into all parts of it.