This is a great, stress-free way to teach children of all ages. The whole idea of theme teaching is to pick something your child is interested in and focus their entire "school" (still DO NOT like that word!) around it. It is great to ask the child what their favorite thing is so they can have a part in choosing what they want to learn about! The older they are, the more they will be expected to find information on their own! The younger they are, the more active you will have to be with them. But ALWAYS inquire aoften and be excited with what they are doing! Remember, the entire idea is to begin teaching them to teach themselves! The great thing about this way of teaching is they WANT to learn all they can because it is something they have great interest in! I will give three examples of how I have implemented theme teaching for my children.
- At a young age, my oldest had a great interest in building things. So for an entire month, I casually based all his learning on building. I asked him to choose something he wanted to build, gave him a budget how much he had to spend (which I might add was VERY minimal!), how big he wanted to build it, what supplies he would need, where he could use this item, and if and how others could use what he was building. After all the information was gathered and written down on paper, (with my help, he was 7 at this time), we then began to gather the things he would need. He choose to build a toy car ramp and car track. With $10 to spend, we decided to take a trip to the lumber yard and hardware store with our list. He soon realized that we better go home and find out what we have at home that he could use that would not cost any money! Promblem solving skill, accomplished! After supplies were found, bought and gathered, the building began! (Paper towel rolls, tin foil, and other things around the home were some ideas he came up with to keep the cost down. ) That is where he was pretty much on his own! Dad did help a few times, but otherwise, he learned by trial and error. After it was completed, he of course got the chance to play with it and we then decided how he would try to offer something like this to others. That was giving him the chance to gather some marketing skills on a small scale. He designed a flyer describing his car track, and we figured out together how he could sell it and make a profit. (At this point, I did not have the intention of really selling the item, just wanted him to begin gaining the learning skills of marketing, making a profit, and business ethics.) To this day, anything he makes, he is always coming up with ways to market and sell things and now does have the ability to do that! After this first theme teaching lesson I did with him, he flourished like never before! He did math without even realizing it, practiced his reading and writing (which did not come easy for him before this idea), gathered information, problem solved, and used business and marketing skills! And it was all done hands on! Not sitting at a desk or table with a workbook! Since then, he has built to many things to count! Last year, at 15 he built an entire rabbit hutch by himself! He drew up the plans, measurements, budgeted, bought supplies (with HIS money I would like to add!) and went to work! His reward was he was able to get a rabbit when it was complete. We laid the ground work years ago so later on he had the ability to build whatever he set his mind too! He never has sat down at a desk or table for "school"! Hands-on has worked better than anything for him and he has learned everything required and much more!
- At around 9, my oldest daughter LOVED horses. So I decided it was the prefect oppurtunity to use this as a theme teaching topic. We went to library and gathered all we could on horses. How to care for them, the different kinds, what countries they are from, and anything else she wanted. She then decided in order to have a horse, she had to figure out a way to keep them safe and care for them! So she made a sketch of a barn and fence and figured out the demensions and what she would need to build one. Now, we are in town, so actually doing this, was not an option but it was a great learning tool! (This is where lego's come in handy!) She also had to figure out what it would cost per month to keep a horse fed and well kept. The great thing was, that although we could not possibly have a horse, we found a lady near by that gave her the chance to care for one of her horses on a weekly basis and gave her horse riding lessons in excange! It was so perfect! Her younger sister, is now into horses and the information she learned is being passed down! Presently, my daughter, almost 15, is planning on being a missionary to Mexico someday and she is learning everything possible about the people , country and language. All on her own! It is so fun when she comes to me with excitement in her voice with something new she has learned.
- Theme teaching for little ones is very easy! Pick a letter of the week and do an activity daily with them that includes that letter. Start out with letter recognition, then the sounds the letter makes. Have them go around the house and point to things that start with the sound that letter makes and put a post-it note on it to remind them of the letter. Make up a song with the letter to remind them of it. Then have a meal with one, two or more things that start with that letter or do an activity that starts with that letter. An example would be, for the letter of the day being 'P', wear 'p'jama's all day and then 'p'aint a 'p'icture and have 'p'ancakes for dinner! For really young children, do colors! Have a meal with only the color you are doing that day. Orange is easy! Macaroni and cheese, peaches, carrots and orange juice! Just a little creativity and their imagination will soar! (yours also!) :)
This idea makes it fun for kids to learn because they want to learn! Be a guide, but let them do as much as they can on their own! It takes away the need for curriculum, boring workbooks, and the greatest thing is, they are so excited that they work without being told over and over because it is something that excites them!