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A little reverse psychology

by Kim Jaworski, Homeschool Resource Specialist


Remember “reverse psychology”? With a little finesse (and parental sneakiness) you can use this concept to get your kids to really dig into a topic. Here’s the plan. You have been studying some subject for a while and you want to review the material and find out if the kids really ‘know’ it.  So tell them that you want them to make a test for YOU (their parent) to take to show that you have learned this stuff.

The time they will spend pouring over the material to come up with questions for you will be far more concentrated and productive than if they were just told to review the material and be ready for a test that you would give them.  And they will, through the course of making up this test, also know the answers.

Here’s a variation: Have the kids make up tests for each other! Oh, the simplicity and genius of this approach!  They will dig for the most obscure bits of information with which to stump their sibling. They will know the topic forward and backward and never suspect what you were up to. Give them 6 or 8 recipe cards and tell them to come up with questions to stump their sibling. You can then quiz each other game-show style.

I also used this approach: I had the boys create a trivia game called “stump mom”. They were always on alert to snag questions from whatever we were learning, or documentaries that we watched. They paid much closer attention when they were trying to catch tidbits that I might’ve missed.  They put their questions on recipe cards (answers on the back) and once a month or so we would play the game. They would get points if I couldn’t answer their question. They loved it. We often played in the car on longer drives.

You can use this for spelling, too. But no prep for them on this one. When you’re in the car or sitting in a waiting room somewhere, simply say “give me a spelling test.” The kids have to give you words to spell, but they have to know the right spelling or they won’t be able to challenge your answer. No cards to use for this one. You just play off the cuff.

And it works for math, too. Have them make a worksheet or test to challenge your math skills. They have to correct it and check your answers. See how long you can get away with this before they catch on! Be sure to propose these ideas with the most innocent of expressions! I think my kids were well into their teens before they fully figured out how sneaky I am.

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