The 7 Categories

I’ve never met a list I didn’t like. Bullet points, check boxes, numbered–they all make my little heart go pitter-pat.

So when I started giving a lot of thought to how to inspire better learning in my kids, I quickly found myself making a list of the types of learning activities we could do and then grouping them into categories.

The more time I spent with my list, the more excited I became. (I know–weirdo alert–just stay with me!) Inspiring learning had suddenly seemed to get a whole lot easier.

You see–before when I wanted to inspire learning, it felt a little like a shot in the dark. I’d try something. If it worked, great. If not, I’d abandon the thing I had tried and move on.

But over time, I realized that I tried the same type of things over and over and that there were types of activities that my kids were missing out on because I wasn’t naturally inclined to do them or because I just didn’t think about it.

But now that I had a comprehensive list, I could be more thoughtful in my choices of learning experiences–and hopefully more inspiring.

The seven categories of learning experiences that I came up with are as follows. (Oooh, a numbered list. I’m so excited!)

  1. Purpose
  2. Social
  3. Experiences
  4. Stories
  5. Experiments
  6. Games
  7. Rewards

I like to use a little analogy to briefly describe each one.

Imagine that you’re trying to motivate your son to try and eat carrots. What are the things you could try?

Purpose: You tell him that he needs to eat his carrots because they are good for him.

Social Activity: You decide to host a party with lots of friends who like carrots, and you hope he decides to try carrots because his friends are eating them.

Experiences: You watch a cooking show that highlights how delicious carrots are.

Stories: You tell your son there is a party in his tummy and the carrots want to go.

Experiments: You let him play with ways to make the carrots more palatable—cutting them up, adding seasonings, or putting them into his favorite casserole.

Games: You set the timer and see how many carrots he can eat in one minute.

Rewards: You tell him that if he eats his carrots, he can have dessert.

Now, I know that no list is going to make inspiring learning easy, but I do think this list makes it easier. There’s a lot I want to say about each of these categories in future posts. I can’t wait to share it all with you.

But for now, take a look at the list one more time. Did something on the list spark an idea of something fun or inspiring you could do with one of your kids?

If so, what are you waiting for?


Filed under Theory Behind It All

4 responses to “The 7 Categories

  1. Jeannie

    Nice! I like this a lot, thanks. :)

  2. Shannon

    I’m not sure if this is the point you were specifically trying to make, but it made me realize that if it is eating carrots you want and it doesn’t work the first time you serve carrot sticks at dinner, there are many other ways to try that may bring about your desired goal. Sometimes I feel like I’m just repeating myself which is frustrating but in reality using different modes of ‘inspiring’ really is like offering something new each time. Does that make sense? And likely you’ll find one that clicks with the child when others didn’t at all. Thanks for the list.

    • taperkey

      You’re exactly right! When you commit to try and be inspiring, what you’re really committing to is trying and trying and trying . . . and not giving up even when you still haven’t found the answer. Inspiring is hard because it requires taking the time to understand the person you’re trying to inspire–their goals and dreams, their fears and the failings–and then matching what you’ve figured out with what you have to offer. It means that sometimes you’re not going to get it right, and rather than give up, you’re willing to explore another way. And you don’t take it personally if the kid you’re trying to inspire didn’t feel particularly inspired by your “great” idea! Some ideas work, some don’t.

      That’s why having a list of categories is so helpful for me. When I’m stuck in my “rut,” I can pull back and ask myself, “Is there another way to do this?”

  3. ToriAnn,

    I love this principle that applies to ‘inspire not require’ because, I can just see how many angles Heavenly Father takes as he teaches us perfectly, and without controlling us, but inspiring us to be the best he knows we can become. Thank you!

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