Wednesday, September 28, 2005

How is Caleb's new devotional going?

Glad you asked. the scripture memory is going quite well. Kids can memorize an amazing amount of stuff.

Here is my theory of learning. It has no basis in research beyond my own observations, but I'll give it anyway.

When we teach our children new things it is like giving them a new string to weave into their web of knowledge. They look for a place to weave it in. A place where it can "stick". Sometimes it doesn't find a place and that little piece falls through, so it is very important to try to relate what you are teaching them to things they already know. As they learn the web becomes more dense. The holes become smaller in some areas and when you teach them something in those areas it readily adheres to that web of knowledge.

Sometimes when I am teaching Caleb a new word or explaining a phrase I have this mental image of a little hook that is passing through a web. The object is to get that hook to catch on what is already there.

I remember trying to get my 8th graders to memorize a poem, "If" by Rudyard Kippling. Some of them just could not do it. I couldn't believe it. How hard can this be? I finally realized when I sat down with one of my students that the sentence structure was too complex. Many of the words were too difficult. Their webs were too loosely woven. For him to memorize this poem was like me trying to memorize the same poem in Latin. I could not just hand them the poem and assume they had the knowledge web to hang it on. Many of my students didn't. It's kind of like when I go to get the oil changed in the car and the mechanic tells me of things that need to be fixed. Even if he goes into great detail, well, sometimes because he goes into great detail, I usually can only come away with, "Something under the hood is leaking. It's important." I don't even know how to get the spare tire out of the back of the trunk of my car so I can see the engine!

Getting back to Caleb, the good thing is at this age they can memorize soooo much. And they enjoy it. Simply memorizing is fun for them; that was not the case for my eighth grader. I want to take this window of opportunity to teach him as much as possible. So when I teach Caleb Bible Verses I try to find something he can hang it on or a place to weave it into his web. Sometimes we use music, sometimes motions. We talk about the verses at dinner, while playing with Elise, we point out when we are living up to the verse and when we are not. Most importantly this is all done in love and in fun. At this age words, language, all that school stuff is fun. Kids are so gullible. If you tell them its fun and smile they usually believe you.

I wish I could have found a way to make it fun for the eighth grader. Some teachers can. Maybe with more experience, more time, I would have been able to give him a love for language and literature. But maybe he was a lost cause (this is something you are never to say as an educator). Maybe, and this is scary to me, maybe the window had been sealed.


Robin said...

First of all, how stinkin' cute! Beyond that, what you are saying is so interesting to me as it ties into the book I am reading, Honey for a Childs Heart, to begin to prepare myself for homeschooling.

She talks a lot about reading your child "good books" to help them grow mentally, spiritually, etc. Your post just drives home her point for me!

Robin said...

PS It ties in in more profound ways, but I don't have that much time to comment on all of that!

Leslie said...

Thanks. Wow! Homeschooling. My hat is off to you.