Last week we talked about Homeschooling Young Children, and this week, we’re going to bullet point some easy, fun, doable learning ideas that you can incorporate into your schooling day, and indeed, make part of your schooling experience.
- Plan a special day to the library and have fun with it. Not only is this a great time to go trolling through and checking out books, look at the puzzles and games in the children’s section, sit down on the floor with your kids, and play. Show your kids, from an early age, what a fun place the library is.
- While you’re in the library, let the children choose some of the books they want to check out. Some of their choices will look odd — because they like the shape or size of the book — but humor them. Pick out some stuff that you think they’ll like, and let them choose the rest.
- Since you’re probably downtown if you’re at the library, go window shopping. Strolling, hand in hand, is a great time to talk, and store windows have lots of things to look at and spark conversation (I know — if you’ve got one, like I did, who hops and skips and leaps and runs 50 feet ahead, this isn’t necessarily relaxing — but do walk together, somewhere).
- When you get home, sit down on the sofa with the books and just read together. Whether or not your child can read, he will always benefit by being read to by you.
- Take a Nature Walk. Even if you lived in a satellite space station, there would be something, somewhere, that reflects nature, if only a houseplant. Get outside, walk around at kid speed (which means that you won’t actually get anywhere, so don’t even think about it) and just look at stuff. If you find yourself slipping into your Educational Voice (“Oh, look at these leaves on the ground — why do you think leaves fall on the ground in the autumn? Does anyone have any ideas?”) stop. Just talk to your children, and listen as they talk to you. Ask questions, but not leading ones, and enjoy the answers.
- Lunchtime? Make food together. This is a great time to learn about washing hands (and why), setting a table, properly closing a refrigerator door, and assembling something to eat. Basic nutrition is covered when you explain why macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, and potato chips are not a nutritional powerhouse. Bake cookies. Create your own play dough. Work together in the kitchen, which is a great place to learn about numbers, measurements, safety, clean-up, and cooperation.
- Got crayons? Draw. Invest in some decent art supplies and have a place where the kids can access this. Set up a card making station and create greeting cards that you — and the kids — can write in and send to friends and family. Go to the post office and explain how the place works — anyplace you go is a potential field trip — just remember to make it fun and keep that Educational Voice at bay (you can tell you’re slipping into it when your voice pitch rises).
- Live your life, with your kids involved in it. Eat meals together, and talk while you do it. Discuss the events of the day — both your personal ones and national news — and introduce your kids to current affairs. Get used to sitting on the floor, at kid level, and interact with your children — do a jigsaw puzzle together, play a game, tell a story, listen to them tell one of their own. They’ll pick up language skills, mathematical concepts, and elementary science just by “doing stuff.”
- As the kids get older, make your “doing stuff” more complicated, and listen to their suggestions as to what they want to do. My College Girl, at 22, still remembers the reading together we did on the sofa; Tired of Being Youngest was only 6 when we made greeting cards, every week, for a relative battling cancer, but she remembers the accomplishment she felt when she completed her weekly card; the Son and Heir, known within the family as the Walking Encyclopedia, started — and continues — his science studies by observation — we didn’t know we had river otters until he told us, after weeks of patient waiting and watching.
It doesn’t have to be complicated; it doesn’t have to be expensive. When you’re working with and teaching young children, the main thing that’s needed is you: your time, your attention, your enthusiasm.
Consider making art a part of your homeschooling experience. All of
the artwork in my articles is by my Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson, and he offers it in a variety of sizes and formats — from originals to posters, from limited edition prints to licensed ones — so that people can find something that they like and can afford.
Find and buy Steve’s art in the following online venues:
- Steve Henderson Fine Art (Inspirational posters beginat $10.95; original paintings and signed limited edition prints for reachable, reasonable prices)
- Great Big Canvas (licensed open edition art prints begin at $29.99)
- Light in the Box (licensed open edition art prints begin at $9.99)
- Sagebrush Fine Art (licensed open edition art posters begin at $16)
- Amazon.com, AllPosters.com, Art.com (licensed open edition art posters begin at $17.99)
Manufacturers and retailers — license Steve’s work through Art Licensing