So often our homeschooling day becomes filled with tasks that need to get checked off of a list, that essentials like drawing maps, copying charts, or memorizing vocabulary are overlooked and forgotten. To make things worse, the only way to memorize maps, charts, or vocab is through daily repetition. When we started Challenge A, we quickly learned that map drawing is a slow process. My sister came up with a great way to get more map drawing practice in only a fraction of the time: timed races.
She'd set the timer for five minutes, and then say draw what you can in five minutes. She'd race her daughter and then see how much they could do in a little bit of time. It's amazing how much you can draw in five minutes. The beauty is that you don't have to draw all of it in order for the rapid recall to work its magic. If you don't continually review material you've learned, you'll forget it. Use it or lose it. Quickly going back over the info will keep it fresh and accessible.
So here are some ways to use rapid recall races to increase your review time without overwhelming your schedule.
- Pick a content or area and draw for five minutes. I like to keep the competition against oneself, so often, we'll count how many items (shapes, countries/states, capitals, and features) that we drew in the time given, then we'll turn the page over and set the timer again for another five minutes and go again. At the end of the second timer, we'll count again and see if we've bettered our score.
- Don't be afraid to adjust the time if a race needs a bit more. There is no way you can draw all of the USA in five minutes. Try 10, or 8, or 12. The number isn't as important as the quick burst of focused attention on the task. Just don't overwhelm your racer!
- First of all, you will never get very far in your studies without memorizing the Latin declensions and conjugations. You can race with the answers in front of you...you just might not get it all done in the five minutes time. Setting a timer and spending your first five minutes of Latin writing down your declensions will freshen them in your mind and deepen your understanding of how they work. It's quick, easy, and effective.
- Latin vocabulary is also a daily time drainer. Set some of your flash cards out on the table much like you're setting up a memory game. Then set the timer for two minutes, and see how many you can identify within the time. I play this game with my son (he's so much better at it than I am), and we have fun challenging one another.
- In the Essentials program, we copy a lot of charts. The goal is to have the foundational information locked in our memories. Once a chart is familiar, set the timer and see how fast you can get it done. Scale the amount required if this task seems overwhelming to your student.
- This subject is where we usually find the timed drills - math facts. We're all familiar with how effective reviewing these facts daily in a rapid recall manner are. Keep doing it!
The underlying theme here is that reviewing quickly is a skill that is a powerful tool to cultivate in your students. It doesn't matter the specifics of how you do it as long as you are effectively reviewing, encouraging growth, and keeping it fun.
Are you ready to challenge your kids to a rapid recall race? Watch out, you might enjoy it just as much as they do!
Betsy Strauss is an unexpected homeschooler, mother of three, who is in a relationship with a sweet man for life. She loves reading books, drinking coffee, and learning anything with her kids.