Passive learning has a bad rap because it suggests that students need to be entertained to learn anything. One website (http://www.csun.edu) suggests that “Today’s passive learners expect the teacher to thrill, delight, and fill them with wonder so they don’t become bored. I read once that teaching elementary school has become like trying to give a birthday party to the same kids, five days a week for forty weeks without losing their interest. These expectations now extend well into highschool.” This is not the type of passive learning that I recommend. Homeschool parents should not have to dress up as clowns and big birds and dance around to teach their kids.
When I speak of passive learning for homeschoolers, I am alluding to fun activities that while they don’t seem like learning, the kids are actually learning. Students don’t have to write, or recite, or do rigid “educational” activities to learn. So why should they.
The type of passive learning activities I suggest involves mom or dad finding fun games, songs, TV and video programs that the children will enjoy. For younger kids this includes video games such as reader rabbit and Vtech that feel more like video games than learning activities. Educational programming (with time limits of course) is a great way for children to learn to count, and begin building reading skills. Even older children and adults can learn a great deal watching PBS, and the History and Discovery channels.
You do need to be creative to find new and interesting ways to keep your kids learning passively. One trick I love is to turn on the closed captioning on the TV to get the kids interested in reading. When words are scrolling across the bottom of the screen, kids can’t help but begin to follow along. For a reluctant reader, I have been known to turn the sound down so that they were forced to read to enjoy their favorite tv shows.
I especially recommend passive learning for the period of time right after students are pulled out of traditional school and begins homeschooling. Many kids need time to decompress and should not go from learning in school right into doing the same activities at home. Instead parents should strive to find creative ways to teach without having actual lessons and school type activities.
*Have a question about homeschooling? Just ask.
* Have you seen the homeschooling curriculum glossary?