by Ronald E. Johnson, C.Ph.D. (1939-2018)
I woke up this morning shivering. The temperature was hugging freezing. I was scheduled to write a blog on homeschooling; I thought about mixing the three Rs (reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic) with dodging snowballs, raking leaves, and scraping frost from the truck windshield. But, I figured my focus ought to be more practical. However, I chuckled at the joy of scattering red, yellow, and amber leaves, giggling while escaping from snowballs, and watching the sun sparkle as frost skipped off the windshield.
While musing on grammar, punctuation, and descriptive adjectives, I watched a deer meander across the yard to munch on acorns, then settle in the grass to ruminate. The corner of my eye spotted a rabbit hopping cautiously under low-hanging branches of a blue spruce. The flicker of a bluejay’s wing drew my attention. Two silver-tipped squirrels chased each other’s tails as they scampered around a ponderosa pine tree. Gradually the sun peaked over the cedars and spread dazzling diamonds everywhere. The aroma of smoldering oak, pine, and cedar logs in the woodstove teased my nose. My wife handed me a warm beverage to take the chill off my bones.
Admittedly, thoughts on academics were hard to gather in my mind while nature put on a splendid show. But, then, I realized that students have the same challenge, whether watching wildlife in the mountains, hearing cattle bawl in the barn, or listening to taxicab horns in the city. Children are constantly faced with home challenges when trying to get through algebra, history, or science. Let’s face it: Watching squirrels, deer, and birds is often more enjoyable than book-learning. However, diplomas aren’t earned by watching nature. Although, perhaps grades ought to be issued for evidence of listening, and watching life unfold in front yards, hayfields, and city streets.
My mind jumped back to the present task of writing a blog that inspires parents to make homeschool more meaningful and engaging. My eyes wandered to the cover of a new course about to be released from Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum: Histography: A Survey of The United States. As I flipped through pages of wonderful graphics, inspiring vignettes of historical role models, and intriguing facts about landscapes, I concurred that learning from books can be both academically and emotionally gratifying. The secret is to put into students’ hands academic materials that arrest attention, engage emotions, and stimulate thinking.
Fortunately, a few curriculum providers have stepped up to the plate. They are breaking away from traditional thick textbooks crammed with cumbersome trivia, to combine solid academics with engaging content that can be easily understood. Wise parents spend time searching for such materials for their children to use at kitchen tables, family computer stations, and on livingroom couches. Quality learning can combine observing blackbirds through a living room window, hauling round bales from an alfalfa field, riding a city bus, turning pages in a textbook, or pecking on a laptop. Good home education piles all the above into learning. That is a sure way to make homeschool interesting, challenging, and beneficial.
For more information on homeschooling and engaging curriculum, visit www.pacworks.com