Presentation Skills||Unit Study Family Night
Would you like to see how I help the kids review the lessons for the week. My intention is to help them retain the information better, express themselves well. I also let them lead with how they want to arrange the information and the format they would like to deliver it. It’s all spontaneous and flexible. I have my eyes set on the big goals, skills to be mastered. Leaving the decisions and the details to them, makes things easier for me as well. The kids use their discretion in this and most of the times it works out fine. At times it does backfire but that’s alright with me. I would rather have them fail and make mistakes than to orchestrate the entire thing, where the learning value of the entire exercise becomes nil.
We did our lessons on medieval China. We tied in history, geography, projects, culture study, comprehension, narration using picture books, maps etc. This method allows us to deep dive on a topic or a period or a region and gives us the benefit of unit study approach. We only combine subjects that seem to naturally go well together.
After spending over a week on this history theme and working on some of the skills which are a priority, we end it with a review. But the review can be made memorable, fun and a grand family event. This fits in perfectly with my larger goals. One of the biggest goals is to build a strong sense of identity and family values in my children. I involve my husband wherever I can and honestly we all enjoy regrouping and talking about what we learn. It’s the kind of environment I always wished for and such evenings really exemplify my vision for my family.
One of the skills I want my children to master is the ability to put thoughts in words both in speech and writing. This is a complex skill and perhaps the eloquence of speech is what separates humans from the rest of creation. It is a high priority skill and as a homeschooler, I do keep in mind that they need opportunities for self expression. And yes it needs to happen outside the confines of our home as well, especially for students in middle and High school.
Public speaking is not a priority for young children and it really should not be. For my kids at this point, its important for me that I give them as many opportunities as possible to put their thoughts in words. Since they are on the younger side, I tend to focus more on speech than writing at this point and it can be in front of anyone.
I choose to give History a lot of importance, even though I am naturally more oriented towards Math and Science(they are my favorites). Studying history, geography and culture gives them a chance to understand human thought process and breaks barriers in the minds. History exposes them to the collective effort, struggles, growth, the rise and fall of human beings through the passage of time.
All of this also helps develop in them a strong sense of self. Having confidence in who they are. Learning about other cultures and people, helps us accept our own uniqueness and at the same time it helps us understand that we are not very different from people who may seem strange to us because of our ignorance. You see, this is a powerful experience. This is the very thing which has to power to give us strength and self worth and at the same time take away any false notions or superiority we may have. God gave dignity to all Human Beings. No one is better or worse collectively as a people. Even if anyone is better or worse, we are in no position to judge anyone… That authority belongs to the One who created them.
I also believe in teaching the whole person. I try my best to engage all of their senses and help them use their head, hands and hearts for the learning to be complete and wholesome. In fact every activity I choose, I see its value in terms of these parameters. I also let them lead as much as I can. Learning is done best when its driven by the learner himself. Keeping it simple and going with the flow helps me sustain this.
So to summarize, Its easy to do unit study and all of the information learnt can be regurgitated in a fun and exciting way. We had a lovely evening, where the kids passionately shared what they learnt and the projects they completed and it all ended with a nice Chinese meal made in a traditional ‘wok’. They even attempted eating with chopsticks and challenged their dad to solve the tangram puzzle . Kids excitedly told him about the golden age of China and all the discoveries and advances made during this time. We even reviewed a few things we studied last year about Ancient China. There couldn’t have been a better way to end the week long lesson.