Sitting at the Teppan Table as our chef poured water on to the hot metal, I saw my son’s eyes grow as big as saucers. THIS, I thought, was a great time to introduce him to steam as the gas form of water. The water being poured was reacting angrily, jumping all over the place. It was a perfect portrayal of the molecules as little cartoonish creatures that were bumping into each other all grumpy-like, as they got hotter and hotter. The Boy thought that was pretty funny, so I kept going, pointing up to the steam rising through the vents as the angry little water molecules floated away. “Woah!!!” I clinked the ice in my Diet Coke and asked him to name the solid form of water that he was already familiar with. “ICE!” The Boy was entertained AND he learned something!
Back to dinner…
In swoops The Pilot to snatch the fun away... “Do you know what it’s called when ice turns right into steam?” No, I plead… it’s too much… he just had fun learning the basics… drop it! But I could see it was too late. His know-it-all grin had taken over his face. “It’s called sublimation.” (At this point, the twinkle in The Boy’s eye is dulling) “That’s when an element or compound transitions from the solid form…” (The Boy is now pleading with me with his eyes to make daddy stop) “…to gas phase with no intermediate liquid stage.”
All The Boy heard was the sound of Charlie Brown’s teacher mwa-mwah-mwah-mwaw-ing.
It doesn’t take The Pilot long these days to see that he threw in too much information turning fun into a boring lesson through his need to share all that he knows. It’s an affliction usually left to engineers, but Pilots are special like that. Their personalities are half machine, half ego maniacs and they are compelled to tell you they know what they know or their heads will explode. It’s true! Their heads will come right off if they aren’t boring people with their flying stories or flight engineering knowledge. You can’t prove me wrong because there is not a pilot alive that can’t not talk about flying...
He chuckled at his TMI moment and went back to the ice/water/steam simplicity.
As homeschoolers, we have the opportunity to turn everything into a lesson. Our environment plays just as large a role in our learning as our books and computers do. Since we are the teachers, we have the added benefit of knowing what’s most relevant to what they’re currently learning. We can recall a lesson that might be playing itself out in our every day living. Whenever those living lessons show up, I grab hold of some aspect while they are still thrilled with the moment. But when is it too much for them to take in and when do we cross the line to making everything a test rather than just enjoying the moment itself?
It’s a balancing act: keeping kids’ curiosity piqued while not pounding the fun out of life.
Homeschoolers, Teachers, and non-teaching parents: What do you do to keep learning fun while not falling into the TMI Black Hole?