I’m honored to introduce this guest post by Heather Haupt of CultivatedLives.blogspot.com. I love her blog and am so enriched and inspired by her homeschool journey. I’m sure you’ll feel the same!
“It doesn’t look that hard,” my 8 year old commented as we read about how Benjamin Franklin ran his printing shop.
Famous last words, my son. Famous last words.
You would think by now that he would realize that comments like this pose a challenge to his mama. Naturally, I sat wracking my brain trying to figure out an idea for ‘playing print shop.’ A search led me to this idea that I quickly pinned.
We didn’t have stamps to use, but we ran down to the dollar store and picked up these foam A-B-C letters and I turned him loose.
We decided to start with something short to try out this whole ‘printing’ thing. He selected double stick tape to attach the letters to our cookie sheet. Do you catch anything amiss here? It took an incredible amount of self-control to not step in and ‘fix’ this. But I knew that if I stepped in, he would miss out on a valuable learning opportunity.
When inventor, Thomas Edison was queried by a reporter about the seemingly incredible difficulties associate with his work on the light bulb he rebutted,
“I have not failed 700 times. I’ve succeeded in proving 700 ways how not to build a light bulb.”
Learning from our mistakes can be very powerful way to cultivate critical thinking skills. But as a mother, it is oh so hard sometimes to not step in and ‘help.’ I have to constantly remind myself to stop.
Once he made his first print ‘backwards’, we talked about what he could possibly do to make it look ‘right’. Some personalities will handle this process easier than others. My second son would want to figure this out by H.I.M.S.E.L.F. It is harder for my oldest.
He is my communicator and it was helpful to him to talk it out. So as carefully as I could, I provided that sounding board without leading to the answer. Finally, he figured it out and we printed out the headline for our patriotic paper!
Not only did my son gain valuable insight into the printing life of Benjamin Franklin, but also the joy of discovery that inventors feel when they finally figure it out!
I’m thankful for homeschooling and the opportunity it is providing each of my children to learn through personal discovery. I’m thankful for the lessons in self-control that it provides for me.
Discovery Learning is Important Because It…
- Fosters Critical Thinking. It is so important to sharpen their minds and engage them in the thinking process.
- Builds Problem Solving Skills. Having to figure a problem out for oneself is of far greater value than having them watch you do everything.
- Leads to Independence. The two previous benefits work together to build independence! One of the most important things we can do for our children is help them to survive and thrive on their own. This includes figuring out new challenges that come their way in life.
How Do We Encourage All This?
Gag and handcuffs, my friends.
Curriculum author Jessica Hulcy, talks extensively about discovery learning and uses this analogy. We need to sit on our hands, close our mouths and provide our children TIME to figure this out. For those talkers in our family or to ease frustration in this process of discovery learning, we can ask a few open-ended questions to help them with the thinking process. The goal here is for THEM to have that magical ‘aha’ moment when the light bulb of understanding turns on. And like Edison, this might take time, but
there CAN be joy in the journey.
About Heather Haupt
Heather loves to learn about anything and everything alongside her husband and four children. Drawing on her unique perspectives in biology and as a homeschool graduate who is now educating her children, she encourages parents to pursue a loving, holistic and developmentally appropriate approach to education. Her heart is to encourage and equip parents towards intentional parenting, pursuing God and delighting in
the adventure of learning. Heather is a popular speaker on topics related to this. She and her husband serve on the board of AFHE and love supporting the Arizona homeschool community. She blogs at Cultivated Lives.