What We Learned on Our Vacation to New Mexico Part IV: Digging Deeper

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On one of our days in the mountains of Northern New Mexico, our family hiked up to an old abandoned turquoise mine. The hike was a grueling mile and a half climb up the side of a mountain. Eventually, we found the mine! For the next hour or so, the eight of us had a great time climbing around in the pile of rubble at the mouth of the mine, looking for flecks of blue green that indicated turquoise.

All of my kids like rocks, and every time we go on a hike they come back with a few interesting samples. My oldest daughter, however, has a special affinity for rocks and minerals. She in particular really enjoyed sifting through the rock pile. Which got me to thinking, is there more that I can do to help her learn about rocks and minerals?

Grace looking for Turquoise in the mine tailings.

Mining For Knowledge

One of the things that I appreciate the most about homeschooling my kids is that we can spend extra time on the things that interest my kids the most. If we stumble into an area of knowledge that grabs my kids’ attention, we can linger there for as long as we want. Public schools just can’t do that, because the state (and by extension, the voters) demands that they teach to a test. In the case of my home state, the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills requirements are quite limited when it comes to Geology. Instead, focus is on the scientific method, which is fine, but what if a kid is super interested in Geology, or Chemistry?

“Sorry kiddo, you will have to pursue that interest on your own time. Right now you have to go to health class and learn the dangers of Vaping!”

Back to Lingering

A week and a half ago, the eight of us went to free Thursday at The Houston Museum of Natural Science. While there, we stumbled into the Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals. The exhibit was spectacular. Grace and I were captivated.

While More Love Mama and the boys moved on through to another exhibit the girls and I spent over an hour looking at all the cool “rocks”. We stopped at every display case and read about the “rocks” inside, and where they were from. My kids were pleasantly surprised to learn that many of them came from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Yes, that’s a rock!

But We Weren’t Done

Recently, while driving to the store, Grace and I had a discussion about rocks, gems, minerals, crystals, and geology in general. The goal of the discussion, from my point, was to gauge Grace’s interest in geology and to see if she wanted to continue to learn more. It was clear from our discussion that Grace has a real interest, so the wheels in my mind got to turning.

What could I do to fan the flames of interest that Grace had in geology? It’s not like I know much about “rocks”. I had to morph from teacher, to facilitator.

Facilitator

One philosophy of being a Worry Free Homeschooling Parent/Teacher is that we go beyond passing out reading materials and worksheets. All inclusive curriculum is a great place to start, but what if our children show enough interest in a subject to warrant that we go a little bit deeper, you know, linger? That’s when take off our teacher hat and become a facilitator.

But, what is a facilitator?

  • As facilitator, you aren’t passing knowledge from yourself to your student, like a college professor. In fact, you don’t have to know much at all about the particular subject to be studied. You just have to know how and where to find knowledge and how to get that knowledge to your student in an efficient and engaging way.
  • You provide the means and your student takes over the responsibility of learning the material.

The Steps

  • Pay attention to your student and recognize when they have a deeper interest in a particular subject.
  • Research and become a student of that subject yourself.
  • Find additional information on the subject. It could be in the form of videos, books, posters, museums, and even interest groups and clubs. It’s your job to find and provide these resources to your student. If they want to pursue it, great!
  • Evaluate their level of understanding. This doesn’t have to be a written test. It can be an experiment, a paper, or simply a discussion in which your student shares their knowledge of the subject. It’s important that you don’t turn the evaluation process into drudgery, or their interest may come to an abrupt end.
  • Sometimes the road ends here, and your student moves on to something else interesting. That’s perfectly fine. In this case, you go back to the first step and wait for your student to show interest in another subject. Sometimes, your student’s interest increases to the point that they take over how they will proceed.
My little rock hound holding some cool rocks with a tiny bit of Turquoise.

So What’s Next For My Little Rock Hound?

I don’t know. Maybe she’ll become a gemologist, or perhaps she’ll get a degree as a geologist and work for a big petroleum company, or maybe she’ll be a homeschooling mother with an affinity for pretty rocks. Either way, all I want is for her to be happy!

For the time being, I will continue to take her hiking, camping, and rock hunting. I have already saved a link to Geology.com for her to look through at her own leisure and I found an interesting series for her to watch called Turquoise Fever . I also found this cute video for learning about the three types of rock. Who knows, I might even help her buy a rock tumbler.

Want to Stay Connected?

If you are a homeschooling parent, or even thinking about becoming one, why don’t you consider joining our brand new Facebook group. You can read the group description here:

Worry Free Homeschooling is a homeschool parents group created to bring homeschooling parents together to share ideas, curriculum, activities and teaching techniques, product reviews, and suggestions. The philosophy of this group is that we all have our own teaching styles and that’s OK. What’s not OK is worrying. Homeschooling is an awesome way to educate our kids, but we should never lose sleep worrying whether we are doing it right.

If you think you would like to join our Facebook group, just click on the link below.

Worry Free Homeschooling Facebook Group

How About Another Option?

And you could always sign up for my newsletter, Timeout.

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