Learning Logs

Bambi’s class now, like the older children’s classes in his school, does learning log homework and has been since the start of this year. If you’re like me you may well be saying “What is a learning log?” and “Is it a good idea for homework?”.

In short the answer to the latter is yes and no. I’m guessing for those who came across this post, while trying to find out what their child’s homework is all about and if it is a good technique for teachers to use, my answer of yes and no is maybe a teensy bit annoying. Sorry. I will however explain to the best of my knowledge about this homework technique and why it is good and bad, though to be honest it is mainly good.

Rather than assign a task and specify the ins and outs of how it is to be complete with a one-size-fits-all attitude, learning logs allow individuality and to accommodate different learning styles, abilities and levels. For example, one consistent feature of Bambi’s learning log homework is English. The teacher has a print-out of some of the common words they have been learning to spell and write that week or phonetic sounds, and encourages the children to learn them at home, and make at least one copy of each of the words or some words that contain the phonetic sound. Now they could simply write them out in their black pencil and have ‘done’ their homework, but the teacher also lists some other ideas they could do and encourages the parents and children to also come up with ideas and then use them in the learning log. For the example of the English common words, she suggests things like writing the words in coloured pencils, maybe a different colour for each word, or use cut-outs from magazines etc to spell the words (note: every time I read that when doing Bambi’s homework with him, I can’t help but have the mental image of mini hostages showing their ransom notes to their teacher). Bambi has been struggling a bit with writing the words as his hands get very tired and he lacks some co-ordination/ fine motor skills (thankfully this was picked up early when he started school and he was taken out of class, along with a few others who were struggling, a couple of times a week for some work on their fine motor skills). With Bambi struggling to write and seeing the way he was beginning to resent homework I came up with some creative ways for him to do homework. I suggest something to Bambi and if he wants to do fine, if not it’s okay, after all this is his learning log and he can do as little to meet the requirements that week or as much as he wants. (That is one of the good and bad things about learning logs – doing a little or a lot. If a child does the best he can but it is just a little that’s great but if he does a little to just meet the requirements of the task but has the capability to do more but just can’t be bothered then that’s where the bad part of this style of homework comes in.)

Some ideas I have came up with for Bambi’s learning log were, using fridge magnets to spell out some words that had the sounds he was working on that week, for example we came up with the word photo for the ‘ph’ sound. I let him set up the magnets on the fridge, I took a photo of the words he made on my iPad then went and printed it off and included it in his learning log for that week. Another idea was when he was asked to make sentences with the common words, he just put all the words he had that week in a one big list. He couldn’t grasp the concept of making a sentence out of those words. I recalled that before going to school Bambi used his imagination. A lot. Bambi could tell such convincing stories others would believe they were real. Once he told his ‘nursery ladies’ (the staff at the nursery/pre-school he went to and where Cinderella still goes) mummy and daddy took Cinderella and me out in the car. (Note: some parts I can’t quite remember but am doing my best to retell this story) We were driving really fast and the car fell down into a river. The car went under water and mummy and daddy had to get out the car and they struggled to get the door open to get out me and Cinderella. I was scared but mummy and daddy got us out the car (Note: he had the staff all really worried and fussing over him by this time and they were even more concerned as Cinderella was only about 4 months old at the time but he made them realise in the next line that this story was just that, a story) and then the sharks came and tried to eat us. Yeah the sharks was his downfall in his convincing story. Anyway I reminded Bambi how much I loved his stories and asked if he could make one up, but he had to include at least one of the words from his homework list. He readily agreed and it became a bit of a feature of his learning log for a while. I’d remind him which words he could use, then recorded him telling a story on my iPad, I’d spend about 5 minutes playing then pausing then writing what he had said until I got the whole story down on paper, sometimes he’d write one of the sentences he had made other times I ended up copying the whole story myself into his learning log, while he went and watched TV because he was finished homework. Still I was happy I’d helped my nephew to overcome a challenge in his homework, even if I was doing quite a bit of it for him. On a side note, I also love the quality time we spend together doing his homework and it results in our bond deepening.

So all the above was just for a small section of English homework, but hopefully you can see how the principle is applied to various topics and age groups. I think in a world were we now know more about learning difficulties and how people can having different learning styles, such as some people are verbal learners (they learn from what they hear and read so a teacher at the front of the class talking about the subject would help them learn), others are visual learners (give them graphs and pictures etc and they will learn) and there is a few more type of learners and some might learn in a combination of styles. My point though was with what we now know I think learning logs are a good idea as it allows the child to do homework in a way that is going to be best for him/her. Learning logs also allow for creativity and if it is fun they are more likely to remember what they are being taught. I often think I didn’t take much in of school as it was often a teacher at front of class discussing something, and as willing as I was to particpate (I loved putting my hand up trying to answer questions even if I got it wrong), what I’d been taught wouldn’t stick around for long in my mind, why? Because I wasn’t much of a verbal learner. If I’d had learning log homework when I was in school I’d probably have remembered more as I would have be able to tackle the homework and school work in a way that was fun and that fitted in with my learning style. In summary if your kid is getting learning log homework I think it will be good for them as it is flexible and easy to adapt for your child’s needs and learning style. 

For the first time I’m more positive, because if Bambi (and Cinderella once she starts school) gets learning log homework for the majority of their school life then learning will be fun for them and they are bound to remember more of what they learned. I think teachers have found the point where learning and fun meet.

  

Image courtesy of pixabay.com

I hope if you came across this post as you were trying to understand learning log homework that I’ve helped explain it a bit for you. If not feel free to ask questions and I’ll do my best to answer, but I’m not any teacher etc to explain it properly it would be based upon what I’ve read and researched and my experiences with helping my nephew do his homework. Feel free to leave a comment.

P.s. I’m happy I’m finally publishing this post as I started it back on 21st of January, but in some ways I’m glad I hadn’t finished it until now as when I first started it Bambi had only had a few learning log tasks. Whereas now he’s had well over 10, I have had more experiences of learning log homework to be able to share to help explain learning logs. If you want to find out more about me read more posts here.

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