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Readers Respond: How can I make homeschooling more fun?

Responses: 16

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A forum member and new homeschooler needs tips on relaxing the "typical school routine and schedule" and making homeschooling more fun and enjoyable.

Don't Recreate School At Home

When I first started homeschooling my kids, our homeschool looked like a traditional public school classroom. We had textbooks, worksheets, and a class schedule we stuck to. I drove myself and my kids crazy. After eight years, I've relaxed. I've mainly ditched the curriculum (kids in public school never finish a textbook in a year anyway) and let the kids interests dictate the schedule. If the kids are really into a science topic and want to spend all day on it, I don't insist they stop to do math. Let them study topics that really excite them. You don't need a textbook to learn. Visit the library, museums, talk with people in fields that interest them. Relax, the kids will learn all they need and more in the safe and loving environment of your home, even if (or maybe especially if) it doesn't look exactly like a public school classroom.
—AngelaP.

I'm Sneaky

Our motto is "Modeling Real Life". In real life, things aren't always fun, so school isn't always necessarily fun...just necessary. BUT, when we CAN make something fun, we do it! We give the children a lot of opportunity to help plan their own curriculum by asking them what they want to learn & we decide together HOW to best learn it. I've been known to give them a rule-filled way to do something & later drop those rules. They feel as if they're getting away with something & are always more interested in doing it since they don't have "all those rules". For example, I taught them to brainstorm, then outline, then write a draft of a writing assignment. They HATED it...so, I dropped the brainstorming and formal outlining & they "just scribble out" ideas before writing a draft of a paper. "Just scribbling out" is actually still brainstorming, but THEY don't see it, so are happy to have the FUN of writing without "all that work" of brainstorming! Sneaky, huh?
—NANASARAH

Travel Learning

My daughter is 8, my husband is always badgering me to make her do academics (after all if she was in school that's what she would be doing). He does not seem to understand what homeschooling is all about. So to satisfy him, on the days we take him to work we have a travel desk in the car that looks like a lap tray with holders for a drink cup and a couple of side pockets for supplies. I also have an organizer that is on the back of my seat where I keep a small dry erase board and colorful markers. We also went to marathon gas station and got the kids map of the U.S. We got two of them, that takes care of our geography - hubby keeps a map up front and daughter has hers in back. They practice finding the states and spelling them. We will spell words from billboards and let her try to read what they say. We also allow her to draw a picture in between of what ever she wants to draw. Most of the time, it is a Disney character since we live in Orlando. Academics gets done and dad is happy.
—Guest Nancy

Movement!

I find that having different areas for the various subjects makes all the difference in the world! Children are active and like variety. We have a 'cuddle couch' where dd7 and ds5-1/2 read to me. When I read to them, we sit in another area because ds4 joins in. Math is invariably done best on the floor and coloring/writing at a desk or the kitchen table! Of course, outdoors is one of the greatest places for anything!
—Guest twyla

Relax

When I began homeschooling, I constantly worried about boring my children. I wanted them to have a love of learning. But, sometimes, school is boring. There is no way around that. Sometimes that grammar lessons just need to get done, or that math worksheet needs to get done. We go on a lot of field trips pertaining to our History and Science studies, do lots of reading aloud, and just enjoy our time together.
—Championkidwrangler

Make It Fun...

Time to take the other foot out of the box! ENJOY your time together! Go outside for some great togetherness time! When my son was younger he used to play in the mud with the hose and splash everywhere. So he got dirty big deal! Now the state I live in has a Mud Day and it cost 17.00 per person to go and roll in the mud! Take out the bubbles and study them better yet make them yourself and use different utensils and other materials to blow the bubble from. Get creative! Make a music garden by making your own wind chimes out of natural and recycled materials. Use old keys out lid tops from cans as well as craft sticks and pine cones. Make your own jewelry by using baking clay (your make yourself of course) and while your at it make some stepping stones for that music garden! Don't forget to plant sunflowers and paint pretty vases to go along with it! Time to get busy.....
—Guest LAM

Having fun

If she's complaining that school isn't fun, ask her what would make it more fun. I've been homeschooling for 3 yrs and each new day is an adventure. Give her the choice, based on your curriculum of course. We travel to other countries, learn about them, live there, eat there, dress like them without ever leaving our classroom. We're learning while having fun. Be creative and don't be so strict on curriculum.
—foxylady47

Teddy bear picnics

Have an indoor teddy bear picnic for some of your lunches with your child to make homeschooling more fun.
—Guest angel

Tips for making home schooling fun

Some things my children and I have done. Set up an exercise area in the backyard and go out once a day for at least 1/2 hour. (recess) Use cooking as a way to learn fractions. Get a fun childrens monopoly and let the children take turns learning to be the banker. Read stories to them. We have now taken up special art classes once a week, I join in of course. We put something on a table, like a doll or anime pics and we all try to draw it. It's really fun. Have a snack time and smile a lot. When your children have a happy and healthy mind they love to learn. In regular school, they have field trips and activities so I try to blend electives and field trips in.
—Guest Loretta

Alternative Learning Methods

My son has ADD, I've been looking for "alternative" methods learning. I have math games that we use, like dominoes,(w/fractions) playing store, a go fish game, matching equivalent fractions, decimals or %. We're writing our own short stories and illustrating them, then laminating them for him to read to his younger siblings. We did that for his Christmas gifts lat year for the family, they loved them. A family newsletter, that includes her drawings, or writing samples, magazine collages, songs. I spoke with someone from our states education dept. (VT) & they said that yes, there are guidelines to follow, but they're very open. If you're daughter likes princesses, read about them. A trip to your towns, historical society, learning the major landmarks in town and directions to your home, & importance of teeth hygiene, there's literature, history, geography & health. You only need to show the child is learning & progressing. not logging a certain number of hours in a workbook.
—Guest Brandi

Relax

Homeschooling gives us the opportunity to make learning fun. Forget the rules. Use everything as a teaching tool. If they like dinosaurs, teach them how to read the names, how to type the names into Google to find pictures and information about what they like. Make use of the fun worksheets that can be downloaded free. Relate math to everyday things. Get good nature books and teach them about life and the living creatures. Teach them to cook which will involve measuring, reading a clock, adjusting controls. Turn them loose with a free paint program like Tux Paint. For older children, download some of the endless number of free tutorials on just about every subject. Get them into simple robotics, let them work with simple electronic project kits, give them plenty of computer access time without hovering over them every minute. The world is full of exciting things, and almost all of it is a learning opportunity. Praise their efforts repeatedly. Tell them you love them. Often.
—drhobbes

Increase Story Time

Hi, I'm on our 4th year of homeschooling dd6 and dd9, and part of what make their lesson time fun is that we spend a lot of time hearing stories. After lunch is story time, and I read some history books from the Story of the World curriculum (which they really enjoy), but mostly it's just books that they are interested in. For our family, imagination is more important than knowledge and hearing stories is a huge part of imagination development. My goal is to read aloud (or hear audio books) at least 15 hours a week. Also, while I read they do all sorts of independent art work, lots of drawing and sewing. Peace, SarahKate
—Guest SarahKate

Block Schedule can help

When my son was in first grade we used a very structured online curriculum. It was an amazing curriculum, but he didn't like switching subjects so often during a day. He suggested a "block" schedule where we did our language and math on MWF, History on Tuesday, and Science on Thursday. We spent longer on each subject, and didn't have to rush through to finish each day. It gave us time to do "fun" projects on our History and Science days. We have changed curriculum since then, but we have kept our block schedule. There are so many "fun" things you can add to your school day...My daughter loves to color her math book, so I let her spend the extra time. You can always bring out some candy or cereal or blocks and use those during math...you can still write the answers in the book. We also use a white dry erase board with lots of colored markers to make any subject fun. You can bat a balloon back and forth while you practice spelling, make historical paper dolls...
—crackedharp

Try Lapbooking

If your daughter used to get to cut/fold & paste and is missing that, check out Lapbooking. Lapbooking covers all areas in a certain subject, for example, we are currently learning about volcanoes. We are covering science, math, spelling, writing, reading, art (building & painting a model)and it involves making little books which involve the cutting/folding/coloring/pasting. You can get a free lapbook to try at www.homeschoolshare.com, otherwise you can buy some or have one designed for you at handsofachild.com. There are other lapbooking places but those are the first 2 that come to mind. Also, once a week, they give away free curriculum at currclick.com and often it is a lapbook. Most of all, if you daughter is only at the end of first grade, relax a little, try and find a homeschool support group in the area where kids can get together for fieldtrips or playdates weekly. She has alot of time to learn and it will go faster at home, but you need to enjoy each other at the same time.
—nini2033a

Helping Hand

The best methodology you could possibly use to make homeschooling fun is a Charlotte Mason home education methodology. Start with going outdoors and keeping a nature study notebook and so on. You can read her books on Ambleside Online. Aussie Homeschool Mum
—Guest aussie

It's not academic

Maybe I'm reading through the lines but the "academic" focus is perhaps the problem. Homeschooling is not school so take advantage of the flexibility and reject the classroom model. Get out of the house, go to meet authors, artists, scientists and engineers. Take something apart, build something, write and read together. Ask your child how she would like to learn (but help guide her) if she likes dogs, read write and draw dogs for a while. And don't stress about it. Relax.
—Guest Gary

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