Setting my son free…to learn!

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I thought I’d take a bit of time today to tell you a bit about my oldest son (he is 12).  Over the past years he has taken a real interest in birds…everything birds!  We used to have only a couple of bird field guides…well, now we have a whole collection…

We used to not have any bird feeders hanging in our yard…now we have..hmm…I lost track of how many (note: this picture just shows some of the bird feeders we have…there are more but we just need to get some more rods to hang them on!)…

My son reads the field guides like they are novels and has stored up so much bird knowledge that it amazes me!  He is constantly spouting off bird facts like they are common knowledge…what kind of birds winter here and which ones migrate south, what each kind of bird eats, whether they like ground feeders or hanging feeders, what kind of nests they build, etc.  Even as I tuck him in bed at night, he has just a bit more “bird” information he wants to share with me before he can go to sleep!  His mind is FULL of bird stuff.  I tell him he is my walking bird encyclopedia!

Well, a few weeks ago I was brainstorming how I could somehow include that passion for birds in his homeschool studies.  I felt that it would not only be fun for him, but would give him an outlet for all that information.  Since I LOVE notebooks (using notebooks to hold and organize information on specific topics), I decided to encourage him to create a bird notebook. I printed out a list of some ideas of things he could include in his notebook:  information pages on specific birds, migration maps, instructions on making a bird feeder, information on feeding birds, recipes for making suet and other bird feed, etc.  He has been LOVING it!  I have him work at least 15 minutes on his bird notebook during our homeschool day, but he ends up working on it much longer…just because it is fun and he enjoys learning about birds.  Here is a picture of his notebook…

I printed out some different style pages from my Learning Portfolio ebook for him to use…and he is loving filling those pages with information and putting them in his notebook.  This has been a wonderful way for my son to dump all that bird knowledge he has been reading.  No longer does he have to try to remember it all…he can write it down in his bird notebook.  Besides all he is learning about birds, he is working on his penmanship and language arts skills through copying information from the field guides, learning geography as he studies where all the birds can be found, and most importantly developing a love of learning.

We had ordered a few more bird books through Amazon recently and received one yesterday that he just LOVES!  He was jumping up and down as he ran to the house with it…and almost didn’t put it down all evening!  It is so much fun watching him love learning.  I think as I take the time encourage him and give him the tools he needs to learn, that I will see this “love for learning” spill over into other areas as well.

What about you?  Do any of your children have an area of interest that you could encourage?  If so, get a 3-ring binder, some divider tabs, and some notebook paper (or grab some of my notebooking and journaling ebooks) and turn them loose!  My middle son (he is 7) is taking an interest in cowboys.  I told him that he has to get to reading better so he can read all the cowboy books at the library and start his own cowboy notebook.  So…his reward for completing all his reading lessons is that he gets to pick out a brand new cowboy book to buy for his studies.  He is so excited!

Before I close, I just want to encourage you to include your children’s interests in your day…set them free to learn.

If you are looking for some helpful resources for notebooking, you can check out these ebooks that I offer on my site:

Decorated Journal Pages for the Whole Family

Create Your Own Learning Portfolio on Any Subject

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  1. Hey Sherie! I have found the same thing out with my kids about allowing their interests to guide them in their studies. Last year, my then 11 year old turning 12, decided he wanted to learn about chickens because he wanted to farm someday. Well, we ended taking all these chicken books from the library and HE READ EVERY ONE OF THEM! He would then spout off the different things he learned and when we got chickens, he became the chicken guy. Then he read (and is still reading) gardening books and started talking about how he would love to get into landscaping. So, he got a few landscaping books from the library. When we did the end of year testing, all his scores improved tremendously (we have to test in our state) and it was so cool to see how much all my kids improved when they were allowed to go after their interests. I am not sure if he would do an entire notebook, but it is truly amazing to see what our kids can do when we allow them to do some of their own study!
  2. Hi Sheri! Love this idea for copywork!! Noticed that "Birds of Kansas," book! Made me smile--we just picked it up from the library this week! Hello from Lenexa! :-)
    1. Hi Jen! Glad you liked the copywork ideas! My kids LOVE that Birds of Kansas field guide. It is falling apart now :)! Hello to a fellow Kansan :)!
  3. Sheri, That's how my oldest son got started in his love for nature. He recorded when birds would come to our area, and like your son read many field guides, etc. He also kept notes about these birds. He is now 16 and is busy writing a book on wildflowers and arthropods that he has identified on our farm. I won't go into all the details, but if you are interested in finding out more about the projects he's pursuing, just contact me. Maybe your son would one day be interested in helping him accomplish a great project that he's planning to pursue. Keep up the good work and thanks for encouraging us homeschool moms.
    1. Hi Michelle...that is awesome! Your son is writing a book..that's great! It is fun to see our kids find something they are interested in and dive into it. Have a great day!
  4. He sounds just like my soon to be eleven year old! What new book did you get? We are always on the lookout for good ones:)
    1. The book is called Identifying and Feeding Birds. Here is the Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0058M66TY/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=grahamfamilym-20&linkCode=as2&camp=217145&creative=399373&creativeASIN=B0058M66TY

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