Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Where You Learn Matters

When you walk into a room and forget what you were there for, what do you do?

I've been taught to "go back to where you were when you thought of it." Have you? It really does work. Sometimes you'll even remember on your way back to where you were. Other times you have to walk all the way back to where you were when you had the thought and then BOOM it comes to you.

It's really strange how the mind works.

I had a professor in college who ran a review packet for us before each test. The review packet was always on yellow paper based on the research that yellow helps you remember. (Legal pads anyone?) The test was always on blue paper based on the research that blue calms you down, thereby eliminating test jitters.

It's really strange how the mind works.

When Sweetheart was struggling through public school 1st grade, I had to work with her A LOT in the evenings. We studied for the required spelling test each week. Each week she failed. I started wondering, how can she KNOW the words at home sitting at the dining room table with me....and then NOT know them in her classroom on the day of the test?

So I set out to prove to her that she knew the words no matter where she was. That she did not have to be sitting at the dining room table to get her spelling words right. I studied on my bed with her, in the kitchen, while she took a bath, in the car, and even in the hallway of our home. I don't remember how she did on that test, but I wanted her brain to be able to retrieve the information no matter where she was.

I also used color coding with her. I had a very strange friend/acquaintance in college named Rick who I have not thought about in years. We used to end up in a group of people who would go down to the cafeteria and study and eat late at night. Rick had this elaborate system of marking his notes that required 5 highlighters. I would study with him, learning the correct color to use on what type of information. It all seemed very complicated. He told me it would work.

The next day I took my exam. I got to a fact I could not recall. So, I did what Rick said and closed my eyes and pictured the information on the study sheet. I'm telling you, not only could I recall WHERE on the sheet the information was, but the colors came leaping out to me as well. And I remembered.

The brain is SO interesting.

Colors matter. Location matters.

How does all this play into homeschool? Well, I think one thing we have going for us is the location thing. We study all over. We learn all over. We are not confined to one spot. BUT, having said all that, 80-90% of our school work does take place at our table. Sometimes we move to the couch. They both use the computer in the living room. We do use the floor when needed. And of course we learn other places as well.

But this is why it's so powerful to read a history lesson at the table....and then watch a movie about it on the couch...and then find a book about it at the library...and then go on a field trip. Of course that is not always possible.

I think about how my daughter's eyes lit up last week when we went outside so Little Bit could practice writing her numbers in chalk on the driveway. Of course, Sweetheart wanted to come too. Later I thought, why couldn't she practice her multiplication facts on the sidewalk?

Every now and then I really rock in this area. I need to get better. When Sweetheart was learning her letter sounds in Kindergarten, I wrote letters on our ceramic tiles in our kitchen. (This was at the old house) I called out a sound or a word and she had to jump on the tile that had the correct letter. She loved it.

So, I write the answers to the 8s on the driveway, and she jumps on the right answer! Isn't that better than computer practice every day? I really need to think on this.

Trying to float our Viking ships in the bathroom sink.

We went mining for coal during a Five in a Row book. We mined
in the only dark room in the house---the bathroom. Again!

I am good about this...sometimes just letting them get up and work on the
white board is better than sitting at the table.

Another FIAR Kindergarten moment...floating Ping down the Yangtzee River
with a friend.

Sweetheart working in the kitchen floor a few years ago.

Making mummies in the living room floor--the day before we evacuated
for Hurricane Ike.

Making quilt toast in the kitchen.

Sometimes, when you've worked at the table too long, you should just get ON the table!
I used to be better at this. I don't feel like I've done enough "get up and go" stuff around the house this year. How can we get our kids up and in different locations around our home and still purposefully learning? What do you do at the table now that you COULD do somewhere else? Help me think here...


  1. I love the idea for writing math facts on the driveway - I am going to try this!


  2. A wealth of ideas as usual.I was way better at this when I only had two and they where in k-2.I think I got lazy or maybe the teachers book just don't call for me to go outside and write on the side walk.I do miss that kind of fun.THANKS FOR THE REMINDER.LucyT

  3. Yes... I needed this reminder. I need to DO. I get to wrapped up and forget why we even home school! I just go through the motions. thanks for the reminder...

    HEY lets both post next week on what we did to "DO". Cross post!!!

  4. I love all the pics of the girls doing school all over the place, especially the one of them on the table. My kids do that. I never could figure out why until I remembered that sitting on the counter, table or other high surface helps me think better too. Who knows why but it seems to be a commonality in our family.

    Thanks for the tips on color. It gave me an idea for teaching spelling to kids who are constantly reversing and leaving out letters.

  5. I wish I could give you insight, but you actually brought to attention how I need more in this area too.

    I read one comment that stated " I go tlazy or the teachers book don't call for it" that is where I am at.

    Thanks for the motivation.

    I have been thinking of making one specific day a Creative Day. We do stuff daily sometimes but then other weeks we can go a while without anything but the hum ho of basic school wrok.

    I've tried Unit Studies to keep me motivated, but didn't work.

  6. Thanks for all the ideas!!! Sometimes it seems like all we are doing is book work and it is great to be reminded to make school more fun!!! Thank You!

  7. Great reminder, Brenda. I've been thinking about this post since reading it yesterday. First I had to overcome the mountain of mommy guilt it gave me ;-) But I know that the kids and I BOTH enjoy school alot more when we're "doing". I get overwhelmed, lazy, whatever you want to call it... but those shouldn't be excuses to not have a little fun!


I don't get to talk to a lot of actual grown-ups during the day, so your comments make me really happy! :)