I love homeschooling. And one of the things I love most about it is getting to play with my kids (that’s right, we play!) But we play with a purpose.
We make art, we sing and do chants, we read stories, we solve puzzles—and we learn. And while I prescribe to the classical idea that young children are equipped for an amazing comprehension of facts, I don’t think all that memory work has to be dull drill. In fact, I think my kids would tell you that we have tons of fun.
As I’ve tried to actively incorporate memory work into every subject, I’ve also tried to actively vary how we do the memory work and repetition. For instance, we do have some flashcards—for math, for phonics, even for our history. But that’s not all we do.
Songs and chants
It amazes me just how much a child can learn when something is put to a tune or a rhythm. Last year, they memorized tons of countries they could barely pronounce simply because they loved the music. This year, we’re following the same concept. As much as I can, we sing what we want to learn, finding most of our music on either iTunes or youtube.
When we aren’t singing, we’re moving (and often, we’re doing both). Hand gestures help to anchor the word pictures and concepts we are memorizing. We use hand gestures for Bible memory, poetry, and our history timeline. And I don’t come up with all of them on my own! Often, I’ll recruit their help to find a motion that will help them remember the ideas.
Okay, so it’s not all fun and games. But even the drill can be fun. For instance, sometimes I’ve taken our stack of flashcards outside to our favorite spot on the bridge. Sometimes, I let Middlest’s favorite monkey answer for her; we check to see how much Monkey has learned. Then, there’s the motivation that Dad just might “whup up” on them at our next unit celebration; after all their Daddy is a smart Daddy.
I’ve also embraced lapbooking over the last couple of months. I resisted it for awhile because it’s messy, it takes some advanced planning, and it takes some space to store all of those projects. But I’ve also really liked them for a few reasons: lapbooking is a fun way to review memory work (who doesn’t like a flap book?); lapbooking allows us to get the big picture from all of the little facts we memorize (i.e. we can see the whole human body coming together as we memorize one organ and system at a time); lapbooking provides a means for me to begin teaching concepts of display and presentation for when they get older (think poster boards, display boards, and science fairs).
So while we have a ton of memory work incorporated into our day from math, phonics, history, Bible, and science, it honestly just feels like a lot of playtime, which is exactly what I was going for—memory work that makes for fun memories.