I thought I’d start a new series on the top questions I get asked as a homeschooling mom. Maybe these are questions you’ve been asked, maybe you’re asking them yourself! Feel free to email me your questions at [email protected] and I’ll do my best at addressing them.
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Q. Do you have any tips for helping kids concentrate on their studies?
A. Know your child’s learning style!
I was homeschooled my entire life, and I remember quite vividly what worked and what didn’t. As a high schooler, my mom gave me hands-on involvement in the choosing of my curriculum. We looked together at books and read Cathy Duffy’s “101 Top Picks” from cover to cover. She figured I knew myself at that point better than anyone, and if I helped pick it out, I couldn’t complain!
As a child, I was visually driven. I learned best when I was visually stimulated by colors and the images made sense on a page. This is why I can remember hating Saxon math. It was just way too dry and boring for my artistic brain. My daughter is so much like me. I went with Horizons math for her because it is so colorful and fun looking! She has loved it so far!
Does your child concentrate best in a quiet room or at the dining room table? Does she listen best at a desk or on the couch? Does your son perform better on tests when you are sitting next to him, keeping him focused, or leaving him alone? My son needs incentives and rewards to motivate his ability to focus. My daughter could care less about earning a cheap toy, she just wants to finish so she can move on with better things. You don’t have to stick with one particular thing… because you homeschool! You get to do whatever speaks best to your particular child. Do what works for them…. oh, and each of your children will probably be different :)
Q. What’s an educational game or activity you and your kids love?
We also love doing field trips to local historical villages and museums. While they are young, I’ve enjoyed exposing them to these educationally rich experiences, without pushing an overly educational agenda. I let them enjoy it and have fun, without being too pushy. As they’re getting older, we are slowly starting to talk more about the things we’re seeing and doing.
My kids have grown up with frequent visits to historically rich destinations like Greenfield village. There, they have spent their Summers riding historical steam engines, learning about the civil rights movement from inside Rosa Parks’ bus, chasing chickens on Harvey Firestone’s family farm, learning what it means to be an innovator from inside “The Wizard of Menlo Park’s” actual laboratory, sitting on the steps of the Wright brother’s home and watching Union and Confederate soldiers set up camp. Do they realize this is educational? Maybe not. But one of these days, I will assign a report on the Civil War or give them a quiz on Thomas Edison and they will realize how much they have been learning all along!
Q. How do you encourage a love of reading in your kids?
A. Some of my best memories from childhood are of laying on the floor with my siblings while our mom read us book after book. We listened as she read fun stories like “The Boxcar Children,” “The Hobbit” and “Charlotte’s Web.” We enjoyed historical fiction like “Johnny Tremain” and “Flames Across the Susquehanna” and then took trips to the places where those stories happened.
My siblings and I grew up to love reading, and I am so excited that my kids seem to be loving it too! Make reading fun by providing fun stories. Don’t push to the point of frustration. Read aloud A LOT! Start when they are young. Read about things your kids are interested in, that are age appropriate. Read while they are eating and before going to bed, you can even sneak in some fun educational books like Bedtime Math. Don’t fret when they squirm. They will squirm. Provide incentives and give them coloring pages to keep their hands busy.
Let them read comic books and princess stories. You can even find comic book versions of historical stories like this series. Give them books that they can read confidently before pushing them on to more intense reading. I have loved BOB books and the LeapReader system with books for my struggling reader. My mother taught me how to read phonetically, not by pushing memorization of sight words. I taught my daughter the same way. She is a confident reader.
Let them pick out fun picture books from the library when they are young. When they can read, make trips to the library a positive thing! Never overwhelm. Introduce chapter books and give kids a one chapter at a time goal. Keep it positive and fun. By all means, demonstrate a love for reading of your own, your kids will catch on!