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Education: Getting Youth Actively Engaged In Learning

Updated on September 19, 2014
Hands-on learning at Jamestown
Hands-on learning at Jamestown | Source

Education: The Lighting Of A Fire.

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.

- William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

I've been both a public school teacher as well as a homeschooling mom. I have to admit, at this point, I've homeschooled longer than I've taught in public school. I love them both though! On this page, I'll share with you some of my experiences and views on education, along with some of my favorite quotes on education. Perhaps the most important piece of information on this page is that kids learn best when learning is combined with movement.

The photo shown here is of my son exploring Native American and colonial life in the early 1600's. He's making a bone needle. We were on a family trip to Jamestown Settlement.

What brings you to this page?

I am a....

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This photo of my children and me was taken at Stonehenge 4 years ago. Now my son is taller than I am!
This photo of my children and me was taken at Stonehenge 4 years ago. Now my son is taller than I am!

My Background In Education

I have a Master's Degree in education and taught kindergarten in the public schools for several years before having children of my own. Currently, one of my children attends public school, and the other is homeschooled. Why? That's what they each want and it works for us! (Update: My oldest has now graduated from college, but I'm still homeschooling my youngest.)

In addition to homeschooling my son, I'm one of the organizers of a local homeschool co-op. We get together for classes once a week and enjoy such things as hands-on science experiments, recorder class, sharing the poems and stories we've written at home, fun writing activities, critical thinking activities, hands on activities that help us learn about various cultures, art, lunch, and of course recess.

Teaching the way they learn

A kinesthetic way to practice one's spelling words.
A kinesthetic way to practice one's spelling words. | Source

If a child can't learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.

- Ignacio Estrada

Some children are primarily auditory learners, others are visual, and still others are kinesthetic. Why teach them all the same? Although it is difficult in a classroom setting to completely individualize your curriculum, it isn't that difficult to include a wide variety of activities geared toward various learning styles. And although it does take some time and thought, when homeschooling parents or tutors change their curriculum to best meet the needs and learning styles of the child, more learning usually occurs and everyone tends to be happier.

The Lighting Of A Fire Within Our Youth

Exploring The Composition Of Soil
Exploring The Composition Of Soil | Source

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.

- William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

The question is not, "how much does the youth know when he has finished his education," but, "how much does he care?"

- Charlotte Mason

What we want to see is the child in pursuit of knowledge, not knowledge in pursuit of the child.

- George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) .

As you can probably tell by the quotes above, I'm not the kind of teacher or homeschooling parent who requires that kids sit behind a desk doing workbooks most of the day. Yes, we do do some paper and pencil activities, such as writing and math (yet even when doing math we like to use manipulatives when we're first learning a new concept), but we also do a lot of hands-on activities which truly engage and excite us. Current research shows that the brain actually learns information better when physical activity is involved. I learned this fact during graduate school years ago, but didn't REALLY learn it until I actually found it to be true. I am currently putting together a book of active learning activities and games for kids to do along with parents or tutors, or in small groups at school.

Involve me...and I learn. - Children AND Adults often learn best by doing.

Learning About Caterpillar to Butterfly Metamorphosis First Hand
Learning About Caterpillar to Butterfly Metamorphosis First Hand | Source

Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.

- Benjamin Franklin

What better way to learn about butterflies than to raise caterpillars and watch them change into chrysalises and then into butterflies? Engaging in activities such as raising butterflies naturally leads us to do additional research in library books and on websites. For example, last year my son and I learned that butterflies actually need the sun in order to fly! We first found that out by observing our butterflies, and then later confirmed it by doing some online research.

Watching newly hatched butterflies!
Watching newly hatched butterflies! | Source

Developing Creativity, Inventiveness, & Perseverance - Learning to Come Up With New Ideas and Ways of Solving Problems

Engaging In A Critical Thinking Challenge: Building A Straw Bridge That Can Hold Weight
Engaging In A Critical Thinking Challenge: Building A Straw Bridge That Can Hold Weight | Source

The principle goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done - men who are creative, inventive and discoverers.

-Jean Piaget

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.

- Albert Einstein (1879 -1955)

Our homeschool co-op had a wonderful class on critical thinking and problem solving last year. The students sometimes worked alone, but most often in pairs or small groups, to solve various challenges presented to them. These included things such as building a bridge between two chairs that would actually hold weight... using nothing but straws and tape, finding a way to make music using only everyday objects found in the room, designing their own inventions, and a wide variety of other interesting challenges. The kids absolutely loved the class, and yet it was teaching them very valuable life skills: to be creative and inventive, to find a way to solve their own problems, to look within for information rather than always to a teacher or a book, to work as a team, to experiment and not be afraid of making mistakes, and to be persistent even when their plan didn't work the first time..

Did you know that being physically activity helps kids do better in math, reading, and academics in general? Visit the link above and/or watch the videos below to find out more.

Exercise Improves Brain Function

Exercise Makes You Smarter

Personal Experience

Although one of my professors in graduate school had mentioned that exercise increases learning and improves brain function, I didn't really believe it until I experienced it. When my children were young, I discovered that they learned better if they were being active. Instead of sitting on a sofa going over the multiplication tables, for example, it was more productive to walk down the street bouncing a ball back and forth between us as we studied math facts. I'd call out a fact while bouncing the ball to my child, and he'd respond with the answer while bouncing the ball back to me. It was fun, it got us outside for a little sunshine, we improved our brain function and learning with the exercise, and we studied the math facts at the same time!

We sometimes made fancy hopscotch boards on the driveway with chalk. Inside the squares, I'd write something we were working on, whether it was a vocab word, a reading word, a math fact, or something else. Before jumping on the square, you'd have to tell what the word meant, read the word, answer the math fact, or do whatever that particular game was designed to review.

Sometimes we'd shoot baskets while reviewing spelling words or math facts. Sometimes we'd play putt-putt in the backyard while learning or reviewing information.

Anything that was fun and that got us up out of our seats and doing something active while learning worked.

A friend of mine tutors kids with dyslexia. He says the kids retain more if they and their tutor walk around outside while studying vocab words.

How about you?

What's your favorite activity for learning?

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A Few More Quotes On Education

Teaching should be such that what is offered is perceived as a valuable gift and not as a hard duty.

- Albert Einstein

Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself.

- Chinese proverb

Teacher: Two kinds: the kind that fill you with so much quail shot that you can't move, and the kind that just give you a little prod behind and you jump to the skies.

- Robert Frost (1875-1963)

You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within himself.

- Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)

Some books on active learning and learning through play that you may wish to explore. - Just click on the photo of the book to fine out more about it!

The Hurried Child (25th anniversary edition)
The Hurried Child (25th anniversary edition)
This book was highly recommended by my professors in my early childhood education classes in college. This newer edition includes information about the internet, school violence, movies and TV, and other up-to-date topics.
Miseducation: Preschoolers at Risk
Miseducation: Preschoolers at Risk
This book is excellent for all parents, grandparents, and teachers of preschool children!
Einstein Never Used Flash Cards: How Our Children Really Learn--and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less
Einstein Never Used Flash Cards: How Our Children Really Learn--and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less
This book is great for parents of babies, toddlers, and preschoolers! Kids learn best through play and being activity involved, not through sitting still in a chair memorizing things by rote!
Active Learning: 101 Strategies to Teach Any Subject
Active Learning: 101 Strategies to Teach Any Subject
This book has suggestions for teachers of middle school, high school, college, and adult education students. Although I've not yet seen inside it myself, this book has excellent reviews. I'm really excited about this book and can't wait to receive my copy!
Teaching Outside the Box: How to Grab Your Students By Their Brains
Teaching Outside the Box: How to Grab Your Students By Their Brains
This is a must-read for new teachers or anyone wanting to improve the learning experience for the children they teach!

Here are a few more books you may want to look into!

© 2010 JanieceTobey


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