I have learned about the interdisciplinary learning while I was researching ideas for science projects to do with my son. Unfortunately there is not much literature available for the general public about interdisciplinary or integrated-learning but I was lucky enough to find something at my local college library.
Interdisciplinary Instruction: A Practical Guide for Elementary and Middle School Teachers (3rd Edition)
by Karlyn E.Wood is one of the books that, even if it is addressed primarily to elementary and middle schoolteachers and administrators, it’s relatively easy to be used by a parent who wants to get involved in his children education.
The following is a “reading” of this book from a parent stand point and it will show you how I have applied the interdisciplinary- learning method in our aviation projects.
The traditionally instruction method used in schools is to address the academic disciplines isolated from one another. Interdisciplinary learning method integrates a multitude of disciplines around a central theme. During the science projects I have done with my son, I was able to connect very easy notions from different disciplines and show him that all of them are interrelated. I showed him that, as in our small science projects, most real problems in life are investigated or solved by using more than one discipline at a time.
Interdisciplinary method encourages the critical thinking and combines different skills and ways of knowing that are unique to different academic disciplines, subjects or domains. More than that, the children can use these skills in a meaningful context.
Different studies showed that the brain constructs meaning better when it finds patterns and connections in the learning process and that the isolated learnings are more difficult to process and recall.
Of course, it was not always very easy to approach each project so broadly and I had to consider the existing knowledge base of my son. My main purpose was not to replace the job of his schoolteachers but to expose him to different concepts that were relevant in our projects, even if they were traditionally taught much later.The best approach I would recommend to any parent is to check his child school workbooks and learn what is he going to study.I use to do this in the second day of school and I have asked my son to bring home all his text books.This way I can plan my projects and adjust our science experiments accordingly to his curriculum.I am still exposing him to advance elements but it is easier to do it when I can relate them to what he is actually learning at school.Of course,if you are homeschooling your child you don`t have this situation but still,I consider a good (and safe ) practice to have a "reference point" in your approach to interdisciplinary learning.
My goal was to help him detect the interrelatedness of different disciplines in his studies and have fun playing together. Remember, even if this is a serious issue, don’t forget the “fun” component otherwise you will face rejection much sooner than you expect.
I found that the best approach was to initiate and guide “remotely” the research in our aviation projects and let my son “construct” his knowledge base in his own way. We are all wired differently and we have different methods of learning. I was tempted, many times, to “convince” my son of the “validity” of MY methods and MY arguments but I soon realized I was doing a mistake and he was close to abandon the whole process because he felt being “pushed” in a direction that was not his own. Maybe it’s a matter of personality or conflict between generations (yes, he is more and more tempted to challenge me and to “prove” himself) but I had to take note and adapt immediately.
Kids learn in different ways and they have their own learning styles as they attempt to acquire new knowledge. They were born in a different world than us and were exposed to different sources of knowledge.The best thing we can do is to watch and guide them, as much as possible, in this process.
One of the chapters I like the most from the book mentioned above is the chapter about designing interdisciplinary units. It helped me organizing and planning our projects and, coincidentally,I already had a great program that helped me doing this. I am talking about FreeMind and you can download for free at
Overall, I found that the interdisciplinary learning method was the ideal approach in my plan to design science projects for my son and to connect with him as a parent, friend and teacher in the same time. I encourage you to do your own research in this filed of knowledge and to share with other parents your experience in our forum.
Also,if you want to find how did some schools applied this method, read more in the
Return from Interdisciplinary Learning to Aviation for Kids