Return to the home page

Article by
Laurie Block Spigel

10 Steps to Successful Homeschooling What's Free or Cheap in NYC? Ask Laurie / RAQ Travels with Laurie Newsletter
Laurie Block Spigel
Classes & Lectures
Photo Gallery           
Poems by Laurie
Contact Laurie
FAQ (testing etc.)
Articles & Reviews       
Books & Resources
Favorite Kids' Books
Language Arts
Math & Economics
Critical Thinking
Social Studies
Foreign Languages
Art & Architecture
Standards, etc.     
Activities & Crafts
Special Ed
Gifted & Talented
About College/Teens
NYC High Schools
Art by Kids
Poems by Kids
Reviews by Kids
Other Sites           

Three Self-Directed Family Learning Activities

Education Uncensored, by Laurie Block Spigel

Available Now! Only on this website:

Education Uncensored

by Laurie Block Spigel
A Guide for the Aspiring, the Foolhardy, and the Disillusioned
See more information, including an excerpt, what people are saying about the book, the Table of Contents, and details of buying the book via Paypal. $12.95 plus shipping & handling
The truth is that we all learn together. My parents were gifted teachers, university professors, and for a long time I considered them my greatest teachers – until I met my children. If I were to put all of the teaching and learning experiences that I had with my kids on one side of a scale, and what I learned from everyone else on the other, my parenting and homeschooling experiences would tip the scale dramatically. It turns out that my children were my greatest teachers.

Being aware that we are learning together all the time made it easier for me to create family activities that we could all share. The activities led to extended learning experiences – not just for the kids, but for everyone. Conversations endured for weeks. Trips to the market resulted in new recipes. Nature walks inspired poetry and science. Museum visits sparked forgotten memories and made us yearn for travel. Here are three activities that made a lasting difference.

  1. Share a news article once a week. This became a tradition Friday evenings at the dinner table. Sometimes my sons would race through a stack of papers while dinner was being prepared (we recycled our daily papers on Saturday) to find something that interested them. The rule was that each person had to find an article or news item that interested them and, over dinner, explain why we made that selection. My sons often chose a dance, movie, theater review, or even a recipe, as if to let us know they would enjoy it. My husband might have found something in the business or sports section. I often delighted in finding history or science on the front page. This activity offered all of us endless educational possibilities.
  2. Choose a favorite item while visiting an art gallery or museum. At the end of a museum visit, share your favorite or most interesting picks. We would walk back through the exhibit and look again to compare and discuss our choices. If we stopped to browse the gift shop we might each get a postcard of the things we liked. Make this activity more interesting by rotating turns to choose the destination. If there is a weekly or monthly field trip, each person gets a turn to choose the exhibit. At home you can compare different exhibits.
  3. Note things worth remembering on a nature hike, in a park, or at a farmer’s market. After walking through the woods or an open market, take out a moment to show each other the things you each found interesting or vivid. This could involve additional exploring and comparing before sharing the picks. Explaining the selection often provides insights into each other. We might end up identifying a flower or tree in a nature guide, or looking up a new ingredient on the internet.
These activities increased the following skills: initiative, communication, decision-making, sense of self and individuality (what “I” like), listening to others, inquiry, and teamwork. It was also a lot of fun!

Related articles: