Hands-On Learning | Homeschooling

The Strength Based Homeschool: A Behind The Scenes Look

What does a strength based homeschool really look like? Here’s your chance to take a peek!


We went to the guitar store last week…

Four times.

We didn’t buy anything. No, we walked up and down the rows of electric guitars. My son explained to me the difference between the styles, the electronics within and the various manufacturing differences.

On the way home, we listened to rock music.

Yesterday, I spent an hour with him, watching YouTube videos about building your own electric guitar, how to sand down the wood, how to install the various component parts, and how to varnish the end result.

Here’s the thing – he doesn’t yet play the guitar. He just wants to know all about them.

While this may seem like just an interesting hobby for an almost 16 year old boy, it is much more than that. All of this electric guitar work is an element of how we incorporate a strength based approach.

 

Strength based homeschool

 

Since publishing the previous posts in this series, I have received numerous questions about how to actually implement a strengths based approach to learning.

Last week, we discussed how to get started in all of this, including this basic formula for creating a strengths based plan for learning:

Preferred Subjects + Interests + Learning Style = Strength Based Education

It seems relatively simple, but it can be difficult to identify some of these elements.

For example, one mom reached out and said she is concerned that her son has no real interests.

Another asked how her daughter’s obsession with Fortnite could possibly be plugged into this equation for learning.

I think the best way to answer these questions, and most appropriately define a strength based approach, is to show you what it actually looks like in real life, with real life kids.

The Strength Based Homeschool: A Behind The Scenes Look

The Strength Based Homeschool: A Behind The Scenes Look

The following are four profiles of real children with different interests, learning styles and strengths (names changed for privacy).


Learner #1 – Jake

Preferred Subjects

Enjoys science and PE

Interests

YouTube – top 10 videos, reaction videos and anything that has to do with gamers

Video Games

Learning Style 

Auditory and Hands-on

 

Jake clearly has an affinity for online content and games. We have two different options for starting points in planning his learning.

Option 1: Take his preferred subjects and tie-in some online options.

For example, if we start with science as a strength, Jake could then research different channels on YouTube that are devoted to science. Because he also has a hands-on component to his learning style, I would ask Jake to find an experiment he would like to complete online and then we would work on the project together – offline.

Or, maybe Jake could create his own Top 10 list or video about his science curriculum or fitness best practices.

 

Option 2: Use YouTube and even video games to teach preferred and required subjects. 

This always scares moms a bit, and I understand why. The idea of taking a video game and allowing it to be educational is scary and unfamiliar. But stay with me here…

Start with the video game Jake loves most, no matter how much you may hate not understand it. For example, if Jake is really into Overwatch, start there. Ask him to show you the different locations for battles in the game or have him tell you what he likes about the different characters. Once you are a but more familiar with the game, you will be able to more naturally think of ways to incorporate in actual learning. Maybe he can map the locations in the game on a real map and describes their different climates using characters from the game. Maybe he shoots his own YouTube video as if he on location and giving details about the fight (any phone works pretty well for video these days). The important thing is, meet him where he’s at first.

There are also wonderful resources available on Teachers Pay Teachers dedicated to incorporating video games into traditional subjects including Roblox, Minecraft, Fortnite, Overwatch (to name the few that we have used) and many others.

 

Both of these options focus on areas of strength and learning style.

Both are so much more joyful than arguing over “doing school.”

Most importantly, both will allow Jake to use his strengths in a way that promotes his overall ability to master learning material. This the foundation of what research shows makes the greatest difference in our kids’ overall performance.

A Word Of Caution: Jake will begin to resent and resist this approach if you try to make everything about Overwatch educational. The idea is to let him enjoy what he loves, and use it to his own advantage in learning, not yours.


Learner #2 – “Emma”

Preferred Subjects

Language Arts, Music and History

Interests

Make-up Tutorials

Fortnite

Dancing

Learning Style

Movement Oriented

 

Let me first confess, I do not have a daughter. I do have nieces, but you know your child best!

Because we covered video games in Jake’s profile above, let’s instead take a look at how to incorporate Emma’s other interests.

Option 1: Take her preferred subjects and tie-in her interests.

Ask Emma to explore music history, either online or through a few, beautiful books. Play various styles of music for her and ask her to pick the one she likes best. Then, together, learn a bit more about it’s origins, history and key artists. Finally, ask Emma to choreograph her own dance to the song of her choice.

 

Option 2: Use Make-Up to teach preferred and required subjects. 

With all of the make-up tutorials available, perhaps Emma could create her own. Ask her to type up an outline for her video, including an intro and conclusion. You can even volunteer to be her videographer while she films.

Another option would be to find YouTube videos about the history and/or chemistry of make-up. She could also write an essay detailing contrasting views on femininity/womanhood, as well as how make-up can be perceived on both sides.

 

Both of these options focus on areas of strength and learning style.

Both are so much more joyful than arguing over “doing school.”

Most importantly, both will allow Emma to use her strengths in a way that promotes her overall ability to master learning material. This the foundation of what research shows makes the greatest difference in our kids’ overall performance.

Again, A Word of Caution: Do not make everything that Emma loves into an educational experience. This is a way to invite her into learning in a more in-depth and strength based manner.


Learner #3 – “James” (my youngest son)

Preferred Subjects

Math (sometimes) and Music

Interests

Animals

Extreme Sports

YouTube and Video Games

Learning Style

Hands-On and Movement

 

Rather than following the same format we used with Jake and Emma, please allow me instead to take you through an entire week of strength based learning with THIS LINK.

Strength Based Homeschooling

As you review the week, please look for our strength based formula in action.

Preferred Subjects + Interests + Learning Style = Strength Based Education


Learner #4 – “Scott” (my oldest son)

Preferred Subjects

Science and History

Interests

Computers and Youtube

Aquariums

Electric Guitars (recent)

Learning Style

Visual

 

And now we have come full circle. Scott is pseudonym for my oldest son. He is the one who is obsessed with electric guitars right now. Here is how we have incorporated his strengths, both in subject matter and in interests, into his learning.

Option 1: Take his preferred subjects and tie-in his interests.

My son and I went to the library and checked out a ton of books on the history of rock music and various artists. He also has been researching various methods for building and customizing guitars, including electrical components and circuitry.

 

Option 2: Use Guitars to teach preferred and required subjects. 

History and Science have been no brainers for him on this one. As such, we have also worked on incorporating language arts (NOT a natural strength) into this area of interest. He is currently working on an essay about drug abuse in rock music and doing well, because he is passionate about the topic.

 

Both of these options focus on areas of strength and learning style.

Both are so much more joyful than arguing over “doing school.”

Most importantly, both allow my son to use his strengths in a way that promotes his overall ability to master learning material.


Creating A Strength Based Homeschool

What I want you to know, more than anything else in all of this, is that creating a strength based homeschool takes a ton of time and faith.

Although I have shared as many examples as possible here, the truth is, you will learn the most in trial and error with your own learner.

What I can promise you is that the research shows that this works – and not just in the areas of strength. A strength based approach teaches our children how they learn best and allows them to apply it in all subjects.

The Strength Based Homeschool: A Behind The Scenes Look

I will also promise you that a strength based homeschool can be infinitely more interesting and fun for both teacher and learner.

It is my hope that this series has encouraged you and given you the tools you need to get started!

A Strength Based Homeschool: Why It Matters

 

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4 Comments

  1. This is fantastic. My older guy has really been struggling lately and I desperately needed some ideas to change our approach. I really appreciate all the different examples. Thank you.

    1. Oh I am so glad! I hoped it would be helpful and I really had fun putting it together.
      Thank you for taking the time to let me know. 🙂
      Shawna

  2. Have you read Look Me in the Eye or Be Different by John Elder Robison? He designed guitars for KISS when he was young, then designed toys for Milton Bradley and eventually got into repairing fancy cars. He was diagnosed with Aspergers at 40. I bet your son would love reading or listening to his stories!

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