Friday, November 15, 2013

Did They Learn?

Do you ever wonder if your children retain the things you've taught them?  I know I sometimes search their faces or ask them questions to confirm that they have understood what I said.  School work asks them to fill out worksheeets, take tests or write reports because teachers need some way to ensure that the child has a firm grasp of the concepts.  But as parents of younger children, we have an advantage.  Sometimes we can just listen to them play.

We went to a dairy farm this week with our homeschool  group (AMAZING field trip!) and our tour guide taught us about all the aspects of their sustainable farm.  They showed us the enormous piles of compost made out of cow poop (this, of course, delighted my boys after the toilet composting lesson), they showed how they used reclaimed rain water to rinse the stalls and shower the cows and even let us have a turn feeding a bottle to the baby calves.  There were at least fifty people in our group and as I watched my sons make their way to the front of the group at each stop, I knew they were interested in the subject at hand.  My oldest asked great questions while my youngest repeated the last two words our tour guide said like a little parrot.  Still, I wasn't sure they would remember much of it until the ride home.

We had bought them bulldozer toys in the gift shop for $1.79 each and as I buckled them in for the 40 minute drive home, they started to play.  "Oh no!  I'm stuck in the mud and cow poop!  Turn on the rain water to rinse me out!"  my oldest shouted with feigned anxiety.  My youngest was quick to jump in to save the day.  "Me get out!" he said as he grunted and pretended to save his brother's bulldozer.  They did different variations of this "stuck" game and had the tractor pull them out or just dug each other out of trouble.  I told them they would be so stinky from all the mud and poop and my oldest shouted, "Drew!  Quick!  Get to the upside down shower in the barn!  We are FILTHY!"  My youngest said, "Squirt squirt!  Clean!"

In their own way, they reinforced all of the things they had learned.  As the days pass, I hear the word "compost" while they play and when they are thirsty they ask for "milk from cows" instead of just milk.  Sometimes I want to give them worksheest with questions but I don't think it will give me the answers I want.  I realized this week that listening might tell me a whole lot more than asking.  

Do you ever hear your kids playing out scenarios that they have recently experienced?  Try it - It can be very enlightening!

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