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. They are a great tool to use before you plan and begin any unit study.
I recently read on a blog of a mom’s surprise when she discovered something her daughter didn’t know that the mother thought was obvious. It’s so easy for us as parents to assume our children know something. But unless we specifically ask and probe, we don’t really know.
What is a KWL?
KWL stands for:
- Want to know
It tracks what the child already knows, what the child wants to know, and what the child has learned about a subject. Because it’s so clear and straightforward, a KWL chart is easy to use and can be quite valuable.
How To Use A KWL
When you are ready to start studying any new subject, ask your child what she knows about the topic. For example, if the topic is trees start by asking, ‘What do you know about trees?” Do not lead her to certain answers or give her answers. You want to assess what she truly knows on her own. If she tells you something that is wrong, write it down anyways. Then while you are studying the topic, you can make sure she discovers her idea was wrong.
After she’s thought about what she knows, ask her what she wants to learn. Children can usually come up with lots of questions! If she gets stuck, you could prompt her 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!
The last column is filled when you are wrapping up your topic. Ask your child what she learned and list those new concepts or facts.
Again, this is a simple but effective 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 she “knows” about a particular subject!