Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bedroom Walls as Learning Space

When it comes to memorizing lists of facts such as the state capitals, the sign language alphabet, or the periodic table, one of the easiest and most effective approaches is also one of the simplest. Hang the information on the children's bedroom walls. I've used posters, pages cut out of books, printouts off the Internet and those inexpensive yet intriguing placemats sold at the nearest big box store.

There are a few tricks to this method in order to insure you get the most out of it.
  • Make sure the pictures, and any writing you actually want remembered are big enough to be read from your child's bed.
  • Point out the information to your child, but don't let them know your hoping they're going to memorize it. ("See, here's where we live on the map - and here's Grandma's house - and over here is Auntie Esther's")
  • Leave the pictures on the wall for long enough for the children to become attached to them, before adding anything new.
  • Don't forget the space along the ceiling - time lines work especially well wrapped around the top of a wall in place of the old 80's wallpaper border.

We've used this method for learning the Japanese and American Sign Language alphabets, the kings and queens of Great Britain, the Presidents of the United States, the planets, the state capitals, the continents and oceans, the multiplication tables, general German vocabulary, and the books of the Bible.

The children look at them from their beds at night or in the morning when they are supposed to be sleeping, and soak in the knowledge. They're happy, because they think they're getting away with something by not being asleep (and because they have such colorfully decorated rooms), and I'm happy, because they are learning a few fun facts without any of the tedium that would come from rote memorization.

It's great to be a homeschooler!

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