An effective way to guide kids in home school

by Mary Ann on September 18, 2010

Mom Schools and The Spark Station

“We started this week using a cupboard with things we already had.  I think I tripped up the first couple of days thinking I was supposed to teach a lesson with the things they chose from the cupboard.  (We started painting a solar system kit and I was frustrated that I had to look up facts to teach them as we went) But I realize that it would have been better to let them ask me questions about the planets as we created the solar system.  No wonder one of them got mad and wouldn’t participate!  She just wanted to create, she didn’t want a lecture.  I’m starting to get the hang of it… I like doing things with my kids.  But don’t know how much to back off and not give directions.”

It is perfectly acceptable for you to teach a concept to your children – just not with the contents of The Spark Station. Some moms will have a “mom’s school” during their family learning time. That basically means that for 30 minutes to an hour they teach their children something that they are interested in having their kids know about or that they themselves are interested in. Of course a lecture type class will not elicit the best response. If you have an activity, something to demonstrate, pictures, etc. it all works out much better. has a fabulous program on mom schools, how they work and how to help kids love them! It is great and can be downloaded for $9.95. Having taken the class I highly recommend it.

You can have your “mom school” independently of anything else you are doing during your learning time or you can connect it to The Spark Station  if you want to. Let me give you an example of how that can be done.

Say that you want to teach your children about volcanoes. You start your structured time the same as you always do. Then you can have a “mom school”.  You could show your children pictures of Mt. St Helen’s and the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland which erupted in April 2010. You could show a video on line of the actual eruption.  Then you could show a couple of pictures of what the inside of a volcano looks like. You might find a book with lots of large glossy pictures of many different volcanoes.

In your Spark Station you have put all the materials to make a paper mache volcano. You don’t mention that to your kids. When mom school is over you have free learning time and The Spark Station is available. When your children open The Spark Station they will see the new stuff and ask “mom, what’s this?” You just say “Oh, I thought you might like to make a volcano”. If they are old enough to read you have instructions for them. Then you just let them do there thing until they ask for some help. It will take a day to make the volcano and have it dry; then a day to paint it. The third day you can have soda and vinegar in The Spark Station to make the volcano erupt. During this process you could engage in a “familiar conversation” about why volcanos erupt.

As for when to back off, it is most of the time. If they have directions and can read let them do it. Wait until they ask for help and then only give the exact help they ask for. Sometimes parents are asked for help and then never give the project back to the child.

If the children are younger and express interest in engaging with whatever you have put in The Spark Station just help them along as they need you letting them do as much for themselves as they can regardless of the fact that it might look or work better if you helped more. Remember the process matters more to children than the end result.

This is the time to relax and watch your children and listen. While they talk with one another about what they are doing you will hear sparks and have opportunities to start “Familiar conversations”. Let it be fun for them and for you. Remember one of the tenants of great teaching is secure not stressed!

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