I think the KWL chart is one of the most helpful yet underutilized tools a homeschool parent can use. I rarely see them mentioned in homeschool publications and I think people are missing out!
I recently read on a blog (of someone who comments here!) of a mom’s surprise when she discovered something her daughter didn’t know that she thought was obvious. It’s so easy for us as parents to assume our children know something. Sometimes unless we specifically ask and probe, we don’t really know.
KWL stands for Know, Want to know and Learned. It tracks what do we already know, what do we want to know, and what have we learned about a subject. A KWL chart is super easy to use. I even have a free generic KWL chart download on my site if you want to try it with your child as well as several cute themed ones for purchase.
Here is how to use it.
1. When you are ready to start studying any new subject, ask your child what he/she knows about the topic. For example, if the topic is trees start by asking, ‘What do you know about trees?” Do not lead them to certain answers or give them answers. You want to assess what they truly know on their own. If they tell you something that is wrong, write it down anyways. Then when you are studying the topic you can make sure they discover their idea was wrong.
2. After they’ve thought about what they know, ask them what they want to learn. Children can usually come up with lots of questions! If they get stuck, you could prompt them with something you would like to know but don’t fill up the column with your own questions. Use the questions in this column to guide your teaching and reading so your student is sure to find out the answers!
3. The last column is filled when you are wrapping up your topic. Ask your child what he/she learned and list those new concepts or facts.
Again, this is a super easy assessment tool to use. It takes very little time to go through the columns to get started. And you just might be surprised what you discover when you ask your child what they “know” about a particular subject!