Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Home lesson #1 - Countries of the world

Image from here
As my kids start to get older (oh yes it is true!) I have become more aware of my role as a teacher in their lives. I don't just mean teaching them to get dressed and wash their hands after the toilet, but teaching them about the world and relationships and manners and etiquette and all the subtleties of being a functioning member of society.

Every day there are learning opportunities and, inspired by the home schoolers of the world, I decided to embrace my inner school ma'am and set up a home lesson or two.

So last week when Nugget asked me "When I am a world famous diver where in the world will I work?", I asked him what countries does he know of. He rummaged up "Japan" and "Australia" and Doo Dah piped up with "China".

So we wrote them down and with a bit of prompting the kids generated quite a list of countries that they knew (most of them opponents in the rugby) - USA, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Italy, France as well as Japan, China, Fiji, New Zealand and Australia.

I stuck the list on the fridge (where all important lists in our house are kept).

Since then, every time we have come across a country, in conversation, on the television, in our story books, we have added it to the list: Argentina, Columbia, Madagascar, Israel, Zimbabwe, South Africa, India, Germany, Spain, Denmark and Malaysia.

It has been surprising how quickly our list has grown. The kids come back from their days at daycare or school and enthusiastically say "I learnt another country Mum" and we share it with the other kids and we talk about where it is in the world and who its neighbours are and we write it on 'the list' and Nugget gets to have a try of spelling it too.

It has been a fun game and they have embraced it. They have been trying to weasel the names of countries out of me so that their list continues to grow:
"Where does Harry Potter come from Mum?"
"Where were my shoes made Mum?"
"Where does this animal come from Mum?"
"Which countries have you travelled to Mum?"
"Is Africa a country Mum?"

Doo Dah has even invented some interesting countries of his own: "Tastonia, Taswegia, Tasrika" (a bit of a theme there!)

Next week I am going to print out a picture of the world and we are going to plot all of the known countries onto it. Something visual for them to remember. The possibilities for this game are endless; we can add their flags and their languages and their capital cities and the thing they are most well known for.

And we can keep adding to the list.

How do you set up your teaching activities at home so that they are still fun? Do you think the onus is on parents to do the teaching these days?


Photographer Mum said...

What a great idea! Miss 4 has been having many a tangy lately which i think may be because of boredom. Methinks something along the lines of a home lesson would be rather beneficial.
Thanks for the idea!

Maxabella said...

I love it! Clever you. x

Photographer Mum said...

That should be tanty, not tangy. Stupid auto correct...

Nic said...

Teaching and learning is a whole community approach. By this I mean that everyone is responsible for educating our young. It is important for parents and grandparents to be involved in teaching, not just schools. My boys have learnt a lot about the world from their grandies and great grandies. We use maths and spelling in most of our activities from gardening to cooking to bike riding. I am a big fan of our globe and we all enjoy looking at it and locating where our friends and loved ones live and holiday.
Great post. You are a terrific mum!
Nic xo

ClaireyHewitt said...

When kids like it, the teaching is the easy bit for me. It is the stuff they don't like I will find harder...not that I am at the school stage yet.

Life In A Pink Fibro said...

Cool idea!

Mama of 2 boys said...

Totally brilliant and I love that you are proactively channelling your 'inner school ma'am', I would also love to do the same. I was only thinking today about how and when I should start doing little lessons at home. Granted, my boys are still pretty young, but it's definitely rattling around in my mind. The countries of the world is an awesome place to start, so fascinating for littlies. I recall being obsessed with the atlas as a wee one. Love that your list comprised of lots of rugby opponents nations. Learning is everywhere!
I also worry a little about just how much certain subjects are taught in school these days. There's so much to think about with raising children... am I only just realising this now? Maybe.

Erin said...

Love it, you've inspired me:) I can feel a brainstorming session coming on myself:):)

Mum on the Run said...

That's fantastic work there, Mrs MM.
It really does need to be a partnership - home and school.
There are so many 'teachable' moments within family life that we can only try to replocate in school.
Things like shopping, cooking, travelling, budgeting ... are so meaningful when embedded into a familiar context.
Good on you.
Love the country project you've got going on.

MandyE (Twin Trials and Triumphs) said...

Every morning we look at our Page-a-Day calendar. It has a different picture of a cat, along with a quote or some information. It lists the cat's name and where he lives. Most cats are from the US, but there are some international ones, too.

Three months ago or so, I decided to buy a map for our refrigerator. One side has the US, and the other is a world map. Every morning the girls love to point to the state (usually) where the kitty lives. It's amazing how quickly they learn! They can probably point to 15 states, and name at least 10, unprompted. They can also point to 6 or 8 countries.

Since our girls aren't in preschool yet (we plan to start next fall, when they're 3 1/2), I do think the responsibility is mine to teach them what I can. I would never personally break out the flashcards, but if I can find something of interest to them, and then build on it, I'm going for it.

These kiddos' minds are amazing things, huh?! ;)

Diminishing Lucy said...

I love it!

And you're right - there is a certain age when all of a sudden, geography is questioned all the time!

Funnily enough, Olivia has asked for a globe for a Christmas present. I may have to pinch some of your ideas!


Anonymous said...

Awesome! Way to go MM.

Kirsty @ Bowerbird Blue said...

Great idea, we are so insular in Australia!

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