by Connie Overlock
It's been hard keeping my son motivated this year. He is a sophomore in high school. Up until this year, he always wanted a list of assignments to complete. "Just tell me what to do so I can get it done and move on to the things I want to do." This year, not so much. I'm not sure why the change, other than he is 15 and with that comes so many changes.
Anyway, biology just wasn't interesting him, so I have been looking for ways to cover biology without the whole textbook approach. My daughter used Biology 101, which is a video-based course but also has a guidebook to help you build it into a 1-year credit. One of the assignments was to take a field trip out to dinner and use taxonomy to classify your meal. On the way, I was joking with him about how I was going to add egg to my salad just so he would have to classify a chicken. He, in turn, said, "why do you have to ruin all the fun."
This wasn't the first time one of my children has said that to me. When my older son was about 10, we were playing a game of monopoly and I had him act as banker just so he could get used to making change. He got frustrated and said, "you ruin all the fun." In retrospect, I should have just counted the money back, the way I wanted him to just so he could hear it being done.
The lesson I learned was that even though everything can be a lesson, it doesn't always have to be, or doesn't have to be an obvious lesson to the students. It's okay to just have fun. Play the games without the forced instruction. As you play, if there is a lesson to be learned, and they are ready to learn it, they will.
Go for walks, and point out the wonder of creation. If they have a desire to learn more about something they saw, they will ask questions and you can pursue the answers together. Encourage them with questions of your own. (I wonder why that frog's spots look different?) Watching their reaction to the things you are doing to have fun can be the catalyst for more lessons later on. But sometimes they simply need Mom or Dad, not Teacher.