Ideas for Homeschooling Parents - Part One

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As a teacher, the thought of staying home one day with my kids to teach them every subject under the sun in the one place I’m supposed to be free of students sounds…well…horrific. At least it did.  Until I realized how easily you can teach multiple curriculum objectives at one time, often from different subject areas.  I mean, I do this at work already, with 20-30+ students, from differing families and cultures, at a time.  How hard could it be to do with just a couple of kids who I know super well to begin with?

Apparently, homeschooling is way more common than I’d realized.  As of about a week or so ago, I also thought only insane people took on the job of schooling their own kids.  I don’t know if homeschooling will be an option down the road for my family, but it’s definitely an option for many moms and dads who feel up to the challenge.  Kudos to you all.

Below, you’ll find a list of activities that are easy to carry out at home, with ordinary supplies you probably already have on-hand, anyway.  Many of them carry over from one subject to another.  You can pretty much integrate English language arts, math, and social studies into anything.  Heck, even science and art.  And drama.  Really, they all fit together nicely.  You just have to be open-minded enough to meet curriculum objectives creatively.

That said, give your kids choices, and be flexible.  Let them come up with their own activities.  It’s amazing how smart they are already.  The more freedom and control they have over their activities, the more invested they will be in their learning (coming from a teacher, I know, I know – but really, it’s true!).

Ideas for Homeschooling Parents - Part One

ART

  • Leaf tracings.  Find leaves (flexible ones).  Put them under white paper and rub sideways crayons over them.  Bringing the outdoors in is big right now.  Or, It was recently.  Either way, kids + nature = good idea.
  • Draw your house.  Or a favourite room in the house.  Or the fruit on the kitchen table.  Have 3 chairs set up around the table, and have them draw the same object from each chair’s perspective.
  • Mix paint colours.  Make a chart first for predictions, then make a web afterwards to show the results in an alternate format.  Oh, and paint a pretty picture after instead of washing the paint down the drain.
  • Let your kids play with their food.  Cut up various coloured foods (cheese, veggies, berries, etc.) and let them create a 3D masterpiece on the table.  You can even bring in more math by counting them at the start, then subtracting them at the end when they are inevitably eaten.
  • Talk about moods and emotions.  Play predetermined instrumental music while they create, instructing them to create art that matches the mood of the music.

ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS

  • Interview a neighbour.  Have your child create interesting interview questions and record the neighbour’s responses.  He can do an oral report for you when he gets home.  Turn it into a pronoun lesson by having him write a page about the neighbour in 3rd person.  Make sure to bring a copy by for the neighbour once the interview process is finally completed – you know, so she can post it on her fridge.  Forever.
  • Book report.  Have her pick any book she wants that is at, or slightly above, her reading level (graphic novels count!).  Have regular reading periods, complete with journaling at the end of each one.  Journal about reading preferences, reading goals, plot summary, character development, predictions, connections to herself/other texts/the world around her.  If she is too young for writing, read her a story and have her draw a picture about her favourite plot point, or what she thinks would happen next after the author’s last page of the book.
  • Watch a movie – seriously!  You can do this at any grade!  Discuss camera angles, plot, character, music score, sound effects, deeper meanings, predictions.  Stop the movie at intervals for discussion, journaling, worksheets, acting, art activities, etc.

SCIENCE

  • Make shadow puppets.  Make the stage, etc., as an art activity, then discuss light and shadows after making the puppets.  You can do animal reports first, make the puppets accordingly, and incorporate habitat and life cycle facts into the show.  Record their show and have them edit it Windows Movie Maker or iMovie for a technology lesson.  You should probably have a premiere showing with the entire family, complete with movie theatre-style popcorn, of course.
  • Water, ice, steam.  Snow, rain, sunshine evaporation.  Self-explanatory.  Although, I did see the coolest snow-making activity with my own eyes:  throw boiling water into super freezing cold air.  Instant snow.  I kid you not.  Just make sure your kids are beside you and not in the way of the boiling water…
  • Find a neighbourhood animal and stalk it.  Its home, food source, daily adventures, personality, etc.  Write a story about it.  Oh, wait.  Now we’re into English territory.  How dare we contaminate one school subject with another.
  • Build a working toy car out of things found only in your recycling bin.  Race the cars down a homemade ramp.  Prizes for cars that go past the line of tape on the floor.  You can bring in all sorts of math (angles, measurement), physics, mechanics, etc.  You get the idea.  Oh, and art, too, if you want.

Are you a homeschooling parent?  Do you struggle to come up with lessons that are valuable, instructional, and, most importantly, genuine?  Are you flexible enough to sometimes let your kids take the reins and decide what and how they will learn?

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