By Linda from All & Sundry
I never in a million years thought I’d have anything to do with homeschooling, but, well, you know what they say: never say never again. (Bond. James Bond.)
We decided our oldest son wasn’t quite ready for kindergarten this year (he turned five on the cutoff date), and he’s been in daycare/preschool since he was an infant. When I started working from home this September and no longer needed to rely on daily childcare, I decided-after a LOT of hemming and hawing-that we’d try doing school at home for a year.
So far, I’m pleased (and more than a little surprised) to report it’s been going really well. I don’t plan on doing it long term, but I think it’s going to work out nicely for this gap year we’ve got on our hands.
For those of you who might be interested in home learning-type activities for young kids (not just for homeschooling, obviously-everyone’s got to fill some rainy afternoons sometimes, and TV, sadly, can only do so much), here are a few tips for making things fun and non-lame:
Get hands-on. I’m sure there are lots of five-year-olds who are able to sit quietly and soak up information during a class. I do NOT have one of those children. If I try to make him sit still and just listen to me blather about something, he loses interest in a big way. If, however, he gets physically involved with something, he’s about a thousand times more engaged. For us, the ideal project includes talking about a topic while he’s actively creating, touching, or experimenting with it. An example: a ‘sink or float’ exercise we did where he dunked objects in water to see if they floated, then filed the results in a handmade chart.
Get a whiteboard. I can’t tell you how often we use ours. It’s great for absolutely everything.
Get some beans. Yes, dry beans. They’re perfect for basic addition and subtraction, creating patterns, and estimating. Not perfect: vacuuming them out of the carpet, but perhaps you have a useful bean-eating dog nearby.
Get creative. It seems like most kids love making up stories, and I often have Riley dictate a story to me while I write it down. Sometimes that leads to a discussion about some topic that comes up during the story, sometimes it’s just a great way to help him use his imagination. We occasionally use one of his stories to design a little play, complete with ridiculous homemade costume props. Later, we might act out the story for his brother and dad, or use cut-out paper puppets to bring it to life.
Get some books. There are SO many great books out there for teaching kids. Some of my favorite titles: What Your Kindergartener Needs to Know, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, 365 Outdoor Activities, The Brain Quest Kindergarten Workbook, the Best of the Mailbox books.
My biggest tip is probably this: let your kid lead the way. Whatever they’re interested in, jump on that and expand it. Head to the library and find more information about it. Draw it. Talk about it. At this age, learning is just plain fun and rewarding, no matter the subject. Too bad we can’t bottle that for the middle school years, right?
Do any of you have any educational activity tips to share? I’d love to hear them.
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