Home homeschooling Unlocking the Power of Conversation in Homeschool Education: 4 Tips for Deliberate and Effective Learning

Unlocking the Power of Conversation in Homeschool Education: 4 Tips for Deliberate and Effective Learning

by Kelly Crawford

power of conversation in education

Math book-check. Grammar-check. Science experiment-check. We’ve spent the time and money to research the “best” curriculum. We’ve been inspired by our homeschool conference and we’re ready to tackle the “best school year” ever.

Easy to Miss Tool

If you are that mom, let me remind you of one important educational tool that is so easy to miss: The power of CONVERSATION.

Conversation is the “skeleton” onto which an education can grow flesh. It’s where the rote information comes alive. Without it, much of our efforts are wasted.

From the time our children are little, our conversations teach them. (The question, “when does she start school” really reveals our misunderstanding about education. If “school” is learning, they never start or stop.) This is why I think it’s so crucial that toddlers grow up in homes where attention can be given to their early, natural development through conversation.

Children are not only learning a language from birth, but they are gaining insight into the world around them and we can greatly facilitate this education with a little careful attention.

Often, and I am guilty, we let our little one’s curiosity disturb us and we squelch important opportunities rather than embrace them. A child who is curious about what is in front of him will be more likely to retain the information you give him in that moment than if he is just asked to read about it at a time when his curiosity isn’t piqued.

I challenge you, as I challenge myself, to be more deliberate about our conversations. Here are 4 tips/insights on making the best use of conversation in educating children:

Answer in detail

As best you can, answer your children’s questions with details, looking for learning opportunities in the simplest of questions. If necessary, tell them you don’t know the answer and invite them to help you look it up.

Expand their vocabulary

Mom, this flower is pretty.” “Yes, it is….it’s remarkable. I love the colors…they’re so bright and vibrant! Do you know what ‘vibrant’ means? It’s just another word for ‘bright’.”

Reinforce their learning/reading.

Charlotte Mason emphasized the importance of “narration”, a retelling of an event or something the child read. Having a child repeat things back to you is a powerful tool for solidifying what he has read, seen or experienced. It also opens the doors for further discussion.

Ask questions.

A most important part of education is teaching a child to think, observe and analyze. This is best done through questioning in conversation. From the time they are little through adulthood, get your children in the habit of being able to answer “why” or “how”. I like to ask them, “What do you think about that?”

Of course, don’t miss the best partconversation draws us closer together. In a society where electronic gadgets have drawn our faces and minds away from each other, let’s be so vigilant to guard this area and preserve the relationship-building conversation that used to be the most essential family experience!


For more about a “lifestyle of learning”, you will want to read my ebook, “Think Outside the Classroom: A Practical Approach to Relaxed Homeschooling.”

Customer writes:

“Kelly, About your ebook…I can’t tell you the amazing peace God filled my soul with after reading it, voraciously! We had been in a place of constant transition for several years and had moved a ton. I felt like a complete failure in the education of my children. After reading your book I realized that we had been doing a lot more ’school’ than I gave us credit for.”  -Amy B.



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Ginger August 24, 2011 - 12:10 pm

I love expanding on my kids’ vocabulary. And it really works! Just reading good books builds their vocabulary too. I’ll never forget my daughter using “vexed” correctly in a sentence. I was so stunned, I asked her to repeat it and then sure she didn’t really know what it meant, I asked her. “Mad and confused”. Well yes, that’s basically what it means! She had heard it 4 or 5 times in Pilgrim’s Progress. Awesome!

I’ve found Psalm 119 a great tool for teaching synonyms. We talk about all the synonyms for God’s word: testimonies, commands, statutes, precepts, etc etc.

Kim M August 24, 2011 - 8:18 pm

Ooohhh…. love the idea of using Psalm 119! Thank you for the tip, Ginger!

Kelly L August 24, 2011 - 12:16 pm

Wonderful points! Finally, after 1 year, my daughter’s growing pains stopped ad I was so excited to do school like “normal”. Then, after the 1st day of school, she injured her writing hand. We are back to talking school through instead of her doing it. After I got over it and fought back tears, I find it funny now. Conversation is the best part! Thanks!

Noble Womanhood » Operation Conversation: Missing Ingredient to a Great Education August 24, 2011 - 7:52 pm

[…] important reminder from Kelly Crawford: Conversation is the “skeleton” onto which an education can grow flesh. It’s where the rote […]

Kim M August 24, 2011 - 8:19 pm

Excellent post, Kelly!

Kim M August 24, 2011 - 8:19 pm

…and I just love your ebook.

Natalie August 25, 2011 - 8:33 am

This is such a critical component to remember!! Thank you for bringing it to our attention. It’s a good idea to open up conversation about anything that sparks our own brain! Rather than keeping thoughts to ourselves, we can “talk them” out loud to our kids. For example, when we are reading a history book, and something seems “off” in what we’re reading, I stop and draw attention to it…and ask them if they see what I’m seeing. Sometimes they do. Sometimes they don’t, but it gets us talking about bigger picture stuff…and thinking through things from a Biblical perspective rather than just accepting, point blank, whatever the book says. Sometimes the kids get antsy and just want to “move on”. So I’ll bring it up again at lunch…or while we are wrapping soap together…or whenever. One of my favorite things about educating at home and being with my children 24/7 is that we are developing relationships while living and learning. It’s easy to walk away from the truth in a lesson and rebel against it. But when there’s a relationship behind the truth…that’s a different story! I think God set it all up that way. ; )

Margaret August 27, 2011 - 6:13 am

YES!!! So important!

I realized this while we were living at my parents house last year. My dad is soooo good at this, both with reading aloud and with conversations. My kid’s language arts assessments went crazy after a few months living with my dad, lol. Their word-recognition scores are highschoo level (they are 4, 6, and 8) and their reading comprehension is 4-5 grades above their actual grade-level. Amazing what a little conversation and some good reading can do.

Margaret August 27, 2011 - 6:13 am


Katy August 28, 2011 - 5:44 am

Conversation. It’s an item missing from so much of life anymore. I finally started to just talk with the kids. When I put them to bed at night, I lay down next to them, and then just ask them questions that are open ended. I then LISTEN as long as they want to talk. Sometimes it’s simple, a few sentences, and then I add my thoughts or it leads to another question. Sometimes they go on and on and on and it leads to rabbit trails in their minds that lead to what’s on their hearts. Those moments are incredible.

We also go on nature walks and just talk. We talk about what we see, what we hear, and more. We wonder what it is, if we see it we go home and figure out new things about it.

Yesterday I was carrying my younger son, just because he wanted me to, and laid him back to carry him like a baby would be held. He looked up at the sky and saw the whispy clouds. The first words out of his mouth were, “Mommy, the sky is so pretty” and we started talking. It was a sweet time with him and I hated that we got back to the house so quickly. So I slowed down and we just talked.

They learn, I learn, we bond, and I hope those are the moments they will forever remember. I hope they remember when Mom slowed down, didn’t care about anything else, and just listened to them.

Word Warrior August 28, 2011 - 4:34 pm

Love these images!

Monday Morsel September 5, 2011 - 3:12 am

[…] And as we are starting the beginning of our schoolyear, Kelly over at Generation Ceder has some wonderful thoughts regarding Operation Conversation […]

tereza crump aka mytreasuredcreations September 15, 2011 - 7:57 pm

My children are always complimented on how well they converse and how they talk openly and about diverse subjects (they are 8 y.o. and under). Then there are still some people out there that believe that children should be silent and be seen only and not heard. anyway….

I love that I am 24/7 with my children and we can talk all day long. Like you I try not to pass up some great opportunities and push pass the weariness sometimes. 🙂 I am learning that they grow up too fast and I have decided to rest later. 🙂

This was a great post, thanks for the encouragement. 🙂


Cory Bartolo May 8, 2012 - 4:55 am

I’ve been browsing on-line more than three hours as of late, but I by no means discovered any interesting article like yours. It is pretty worth sufficient for me. Personally, if all site owners and bloggers made good content as you probably did, the internet will probably be much more useful than ever before.

Homeschooling Help: Education and The Skills That Matter | October 4, 2013 - 4:05 pm

[…] Conversation, conversation, conversation. I’ve written over and over on this one, and it seems quite […]

How do I Do Relaxed HomeschoolingGeneration Cedar: Encouragement for Christian Moms with Homeschooling, Saving Money and Raising Children March 17, 2015 - 9:55 pm

[…] of the study is to have everyone share what they are reading. We place a lot of emphasis on the value of conversation in education. Not only does it broaden everyone’s knowledge of the topic, but it helps solidify what each […]


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