Did you know that the study of human psychology and the brain shows that we all learn best with moderate challenge? When a task is too difficult, we shut down into a self-protection mode and quit thinking or problem solving. Conversely, a simple task also suppresses a learner's thinking. When we are not challenged, we also shut down and quit thinking.
A task or lesson is appropriate when a learner has to take a leap into the unknown, but has enough background information to reach a new level of understanding.
I think more often we err on the side of not challenging children enough. As adults, we have a tendency to underestimate what they are capable of. Try giving your child a little extra challenge and see what happens. Answer his questions with questions that make him think in a different way. You may be surprised at what happens.
One way to give your kids an extra challenge is to ditch the worksheets and have them take what they have learned and create a product that reflects their learning. Maybe she could create a board game, make a sculpture, or write a tall tale. How about a cartoon, a scale drawing or a map. She could write a play, give a sales pitch to you or create a pamphlet, diorama, graph or puppet show. The sky is the limit, and when you go through the process of creating a product, you learn so much more!
What fun ways have you and your children gone a little deeper in learning? Feel free to add a comment with your great idea!