Have you ever met a young child who did not like to dig? In the dirt, at the beach, on the rock pile, to the bottom of the bucket of blocks. They have a natural sense of discovery and curiosity that cannot be quenched.
So, I say, “Let them DIG!” Yes, digging in the dirt can get messy, but it’s what they live for! It’s what makes them happy. It’s how they explore and learn in their world. We have eight children and only one really did not like getting dirty. Still, given a shovel or spoon or stick (insert tool of choice) that child loved to dig. There is something about the possibility of unearthing a treasure, or discovering some never-before-seen species of critter, or maybe a long lost favorite toy might appear from the depths!
All this is well and good when they are young. Some children may continue digging in the dirt on into later childhood (or even adulthood?) but very few of our children will be finding themselves on an archeology crew later in life. What does digging have to do with how we homeschool?
The concept of ‘digging’ is directly related to how children learn. First, they explore the world God created for them. They dredge moats around their sand castles, they dig holes in the back yard trying to reach China. What about those earthworms and nightcrawlers for the upcoming fishing and camping trip? Or maybe it’s mudpies baking in the sun on the hot driveway. There’s more going on there than just a hole in the dirt. There are plans and dreams being formed, skills being honed.
Then, we tell them to sit down, pay attention, be quiet, listen up — so we can spoonfeed them everything they’ll ever need to know. Well, ok, so we know that we’ll never be able to give them every bit of knowledge they’ll ever need in life, but isn’t that the way we often approach education? “I’m the teacher, you are the student, here’s what I want you to know.” That may not be the best way to teach, or to learn.
Instead, let’s give them room to continue digging. It came naturally enough when they were small. Why not let them use those digging skills as they grow? In our homeschool, we want our children to . . .
. . . Dig for information. Teach them to use reference materials. Have you ever sent your child to look up a word in the dictionary when they didn’t know how to spell it? That’s digging!
. . . Dig for inspiration. Is there an event in history or a person they admire? Let them dig for information on the topic using the library or trusted sites on the internet.
. . . Dig for needed services. Do you need a plumber or a tree trimmer? Let them use the phone book or check with others who might have connections, even making the phone calls themselves.
. . . Dig in order to acquire new skills. What would it take to begin a wood carving craft? What recipes are out there for a boy who dreams of being a chef? How does a young hunter tan a hide? Let them dig to find the answers and then put those answers into practice!
. . . Dig for the sake of digging. Sometimes, it’s satisfying just to find the answers. Even better if they find those answers on their own, coming to conclusions and opinions that have not been handed to them by well-intentioned parents or teachers. There’s a thrill in the discovery.
Our main goal as homeschooling moms is really not to just get them through grade 12, or even to get them into the finest colleges, but help prepare them for life. Helping them acquire the tools needed to find what they’ll need, whatever that may be, is one of the greatest gifts we can give them. We will never be able to teach them every little fact they’ll ever need to know in order to succeed in life, but we can direct them in such a way that they’ll dig until the have what they need to succeed.
Join me as I blog through the alphabet, sharing thoughts to encourage the homeschooling mom in her own homeschooling journey. Join me every Monday as we work our way from A to Z! You can click on the image below to see all the posts in the series.