Do you have big, juicy conversations in your homeschool?
What is a big, juicy conversation?
It’s a discussion, an exchange, or a debate. It’s listening and thoughtfully responding. Julie Bogart of Brave Writer describes it as asking meaningful questions, talking, and making contributions.
However, the last thing you want it for this to come across as a contrived, scheduled learning opportunity.
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Conversation as a Tool for Learning
In homeschooling, discussion can be one of the most crucial tools in creating a life of learning.
Through conversation, you can gain insight into what your child is learning and how they are putting all the pieces together. You also get to participate and perhaps encourage your child to dig a little deeper into an idea or topic.
Even schools see its value and try to replicate it in a manner which can be graded by a teacher with the hated discussion questions, but is that even a discussion?
Doesn’t a discussion or conversation require two willing participants? Of course, or it turns into the dreaded lecture. And we all know the difference.
So as homeschoolers, what tools can we use to make those conversations happen naturally?
Reading aloud to your children serves numerous purposes and is the ultimate tool for creating an educating life. Reading aloud does so much, such as:
- Encourages vocabulary development
- Expands their view of the world
- Cultivates creativity and imagination
- Allows them to increase their comprehension above what they are capable of reading independently
We recently read Homesick: My Own Story by Jean Fritz and thoroughly enjoyed the brief glimpse into her life as a child in China. It led to conversations about Communism, Chinese customs, an American refusing to say “God save the king,” and whether we like the name Marjorie.
These are not necessarily topics of everyday conversation but were introduced through literature. Somehow, they seem to respond better than if I had woke up and told them today we were studying Communism.
Brave Writer LIterature Guides
Are you still a little still a little nervous that you won’t ask the right questions? Since Brave Writer puts such an emphasis on conversation, the Arrow and Boomerang guides are a great place to find inspiration for your next big, juicy conversation.
And you don’t have to ask them in your best teacher voice. First, answer them yourself and then ask your child for their perspective.
The two storylines were challenging for my younger girls at times, but we hung in there. This book encouraged many questions:
- How old would the characters be today?
- Where did this take place? So we pulled out our map book.
- What would it have been like to grow up in a refugee camp with no family?
- Can you imagine the joy he felt when he was chosen to come to America?
- Why was there so much prejudice amongst the tribes?
This is a very intense book, but we couldn’t stop reading. We had to know what happened to Salva.
So if you’re uncomfortable diving into a big, juicy literature conversation solo, Brave Writer can help you get the ideas flowing.
Games and Trivia
Trivia is one of my favorite ways to encourage a BJC.
We have a set of older Trivial Pursuit cards I picked up at the thrift store and hey are probably date from when I was a child. I have fond memories of Trivial Pursuit because it was the only game my dad would play.
Some nights we simply ask the questions and see who knows the answer. By doing this with the older cards, we’ve had discussions about the USSR, East and West Germany, the Berlin Wall, and the Irish Republican Army. This beats a modern history class every time.
The game Timeline has also been a great discussion starter because of all the reasoning we go through about which card to play first and which is older, a baguette or a shopping cart.
Through games and trivia, you encounter small, interesting facts which can lead to a broader discussion.
Technology, Social Media, and News
No one thinks of social media as a catalyst to deep conversations and insight. It’s more often a place where you vow never to read another comment again. But on occasion, it can lead to significant discussions.
The most important conversation being about its proper use.
But how else can we use social media as a tool to encourage big, juicy conversations?
When looking at any story or post shared online, our first question should be is this even true? How can I find out more? Is it like so many news stories and contain some truth, but is also sensationalized?
With information, both real and false, ricocheting around the world at record speed, it is up to all of us to not accept things at face value. It can take a lot of research and many conversations to determine where the truth lies.
We should also encourage our kids to consider beliefs from all angles. Why does someone believe what they do? What information are they using to come to that conclusion?
Just a few minutes on Facebook or Twitter can lead to endless conversations.
Movies and TV
Movies and TV offer the opportunity for countless conversations. However, in our house, we have to wait until the movie or show is over. My husband can’t stand talking while a movie is playing.
Not only are your children learning about the elements of a story such as characters and plot, but they are also learning about human nature and how different people overcome obstacles.
Why did they take the action they did? Would another course of action have been better? What other outcomes could there have been?
Brave Writer also has a free movie guide to help you make meaningful comments and discuss movies in a way that goes beyond “that was so good.”
The Greatest Tool
The most significant tool to encourage big, juicy conversations is being open to whatever interesting thing comes your way,
Is it an article, blog post, movie, book, song, or other interesting conversation you’ve had? The inspiration can be anywhere, and it doesn’t take a notation in your bullet journal to make it happen.
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