Dispelling the myth of the “boring” school subject

Dispelling the myth of boring homeschool unit studies

People will tell you that there are certain subjects it’s just impossible to make fun. But, honestly…we haven’t found one yet! (At least not when it comes to homeschooling.)

The truth is that often our preconceived notions about teaching a subject stem from our experiences learning that subject. Sometimes we internalize either the method by which we were taught, or even simply our own feelings about the experience, and these can bleed into how we approach that subject in our own homeschool.

That’s part of why we talk so much about deschooling! By recalibrating our preconceived notions and biases about education, we can quickly realize that there are too many different ways to teach a subject for any of them to ever be truly boring.

The secret is making the lesson hands-on and rooted in practical, real life knowledge and skills—and paying attention to how your child likes to learn. Here are a few examples of subjects commonly mislabeled as “boring” and how to change up your approach.

Struggling with math? 🧮 Look for concrete, play-based ways to bring abstract numbers to life, or add in a story or physical movement to fully engage their brain. For younger learners, that means introducing tactile associations with numbers, like using counters or other manipulatives or counting playdough taps to engage all of your child’s senses. Click here for more tips from a pediatric OT on how to bring movement into your math lessons.

And who of us hasn’t thought “when will I ever use this?” about a math lesson? Help older learners avoid that busywork feeling by demonstrating math in the real world. Cooking, measurements, scheduling + time, temperature, budgeting, estimation, engineering, and gameschooling are all math activities that demonstrate the practical value of this fascinating subject.

Bored by history? Start by dispelling the notion that history is just about things that happened a long time ago. Living books are a major tool for helping your child to connect to people they will never meet, especially those from the past. Look for living picture books that highlight real people your child can connect with in a personal way, and help them make connections by comparing and contrasting their own life and struggles with that person’s.

And never underestimate the value of a field trip! Museums, historical sites, being able to compare historic photos with what a place currently looks like will help a child to strengthen that personal connection and feel like history is truly a part of their every day life.

Struggling with writing? No one can sniff out a busywork writing assignment faster than a child. Insted, give them purposeful writing assignments, like writing grocery lists, thank-you notes, or even signs for their room. (And don’t stress if they only write a few minutes a day—that’s a great place to start!)

We also encourage you to remember that writing is not a single skill to practice—and whether you’re working on reading comprehension, handwriting, grammar, or storytelling should change how you approach the activity.

For example, if your child resists handwriting practice, you may need to build up their upper body or fine motor strength to help them feel more confident. (And if you’re working with a left-handed writer, you might find these tips extra helpful!) But if you’re prioritizing story telling abilities, don’t worry about actually writing at all! Let your child type, create comic books, or you can scribe their stories so the mechanics of writing don’t get in the way of their cohesive thoughts. By prioritizing one skill at a time, you’re more likely to avoid frustration and instead to teach your child to love the process of writing.

Which subjects are a challenge in your home?

Published by The Learn + Live Letter

The Learn + Live Letter is a play- and project-based homeschool curriculum for children ages 3-12.

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