It’s easier for kids in public schools not to question what they are learning. Schools have requirements, and kids follow them. In homeschool, it’s different, but there are still ways to convince your child they need to learn material that seems irrelevant.
It seems cliché, but there inevitably may be a time when your child will ask dreaded questions about what they are learning. Do you know what those dreaded questions are?
Why do I need to learn this?
How is this going to help me in my future?
When will I ever need this as an adult?
I will be honest with you here. Sometimes we teach our children things, and we ask these very questions. Especially with certain subjects we struggle to teach or those that our kids struggle to learn.
Do they really need convincing?
We would love to convince our kids that they need to learn material that seems irrelevant to them. We have to remember that our kids are pretty smart humans.
They don’t need convincing that the material is relevant but need to understand it needs to be done. Convincing a child that the subject is relevant is perhaps doing them a disservice in a sense.
See, in life, they may have to do things they don’t find quite relevant. We don’t want kids thinking that because they don’t see the need to do something, it shouldn’t be done.
Giving them an out is not the solution; trying to convince them a subject is relevant may not be necessary. Parents can do one of two things.
We can make the lessons more bearable or reevaluate if it is necessary at all.
There are the basics we should teach to get our kids to a certain point. Those subjects include math, reading, language arts, social studies, and science. Then there comes the point when kids start questioning why.
They make connections between what they might want to do when they are adults and correlate their goals with their educational journey. It is a natural progression for kids to want to seek an education that will help them in the field they want to be in.
If your kids are attempting to take calculus yet want to be electricians, one could see why they are asking these very valid questions.
He may own his own business one day, so taking more business-oriented math lessons make good sense.
This may be the time to reevaluate whether it is wise to adjust the lessons and goals you have set for your child. Homeschool lends itself well to change and adjustment.
Your homeschool, your rules, and your prerogative to gear lessons towards your child’s interests.
Now we face the scenario where kids have to learn the material. You may feel your child must know the material. You may not want to quit a plan early, or you plainly spent too much on curriculum and want to truck through it.
There are some actions you can take to help your child through classes they think are irrelevant. Remember, we don’t have to teach in conventional ways. We don’t have to fit a box. What freedom!
So, how can we get kids engaged with learning material they don’t think is essential?
According to data from the nonprofit YouthTruth, just 54 percent of middle school students and 46 percent of high school students think their studies are relevant.
As homeschoolers, we don’t need a school board to tell us what our kids need to learn. All we need to do is talk to our children.
Here are a few things we can do to work with our kids when they feel learning material isn’t relevant.
1. Tell them the truth or likewise explain the relevancy in ways they can understand.
You may really need or want your student to take Algebra. They may not think it’s important to them.
However, the amount of troubleshooting, following order of operations (instructions), and critical thinking it takes, makes Algebra something entirely relevant for their future work experience.
There is an actual technical term for this called utility value. Basically, the utility value is purely academic and stresses the importance content has on a student’s future goals. It can include both short-term and long-term goals.
Make the connections on how they are learning will produce an impact on what they want to do in the future.
2. Provide some learning material that fits their interests.
You can’t always do away with the basics and the necessary lessons. Your kids may hate writing, but you want them to put together a written essay or report because we know reports are a part of many career fields.
Let them write about what they love. Have them research whatever sports, artists, music, or even food they like.
Make it so if they have to take a few courses they deem irrelevant that they also have a couple which they are excited to be engaged in. Get some tips on how to teach with your child’s interest in mind.
How To Explore Special Interests In Your Homeschool | Large Family, Frugal Living
Use different materials to help your student get through their course without the monotony that they are not looking forward to.
Try videos, games, or hands-n activities as much as you can. Try unit studies to break up the monotony in your homeschool. Kids can think particular material is irrelevant until the cows come home, but keeping it interesting makes it bearable but with the same outcome.
Here are a couple of resources to help if your kids hate reading or hate math.
Of course, we can intentionally make lessons relevant for our kids or completely deleted from our lessons anything our kids don’t like. However, we can’t do that every time and in every instance.
Our kids will either be lacking some needed skills or not be able to function well in a world that doesn’t go their way. So finding ways to convince your child they need to learn material that seems irrelevant, may not be what they need.
If it’s at all possible, work with your kids to gear lessons towards what they are interested in. And for all the other times, help your kids discover in ways that are different and in line with their learning style. If you can do these things, then kids considering to learn materials that seem irrelevant … irrelevant ;-).
Jeannette is a wife, mother and homeschooling mom. She has been mightily, saved by grace and is grateful for God’s sovereignty throughout her life’s journey. She has a Bachelor in English Education and her MBA. Jeannette is bi-lingual and currently lives in the Tongan Islands of the South Pacific. She posts daily freebies for homeschoolers!
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