I was thinking it would be a difficult week, especially with the very busy weekend we had. I was pleasantly surprised.
The 2,5 year old finally seems to be adapting to the school schedule and hangs out nearby playing mostly independently or coming to snuggle during snuggle times or dance around during active times. I do offer him independent activities on the play mat that we moved to the school room, but he likes to do his own thing as well.
The 5 year old is finally starting to read very independently, without being coerced (usually I bribe him with stickers or say that I'll take turns reading a book he really wants to read). Even though I don't remember liking the Burgess books when I was little, Daniel loves them, and always asks for more reading (even though I have the free e-versions with ZERO pictures) so I've thought about starting a family reading at night or even during nap time with him.
And, the best news of all, is that my sensory resistant, low fine motor skills child is LOVING the hands on activities for handwriting/math. We've written in rice, in gel, in "rainbow crayons", on each other's back, with tape on the floor, and more. I was unsure about this curriculum when I first purchased, but now I'm loving Little Hearts for His Glory. He hasn't quite started enjoying drawing, so I plan to start adding in some "official" drawing activities next week to try to help motivate him to give art a try.
So, as a celebration of our stupendous success in our two days of homeschool (and now officially finished with four full units of our curriculum) here are a few of my top tips for teaching (little kids) in your homeschool.
- Know your child. They have their own personality, and it may not be yours. Work with it, not against it, but also encourage your child in their weakness. For example, my child does not like to try if he thinks he will fail. So we point out in books that people can draw things differently and it's okay, we point out that many people have failed along their journey, including the Bible characters we're reading about.
- Know yourself. If you're the person who has a ton of great ideas, but is too good at procrastination, consider using an open and go curriculum like Heart of Dakota. It solves the problem of "what to do today" but is still flexible enough that you can easily subtract or add on.
- Keep it interest based. If your child asks why, answer to the best of your ability. If you aren't sure, look it up. If he wants more, go to the library and get some books on the topic.
- Keep it age appropriate. Yes, sometimes I find myself needing to explain gravity or prison to my 5 year old. But that doesn't mean I have to get into the specific details. At his age, it's enough that gravity keeps your feet on the ground and bad guys go to jail. Although, since he never stops asking why, eventually I do run out of age-appropriate answers, so I just tell him that I've already explained it several times and he should come up with another question. Let me know if this works for you, because good heavens the child can ask questions.
- Keep it active. I love that the Little Hearts for His Glory book includes so many active and "moving" parts to it. If I see that my young 5-year old boy is getting restless, I just switch up the order so we have an "active" part of the day next. A reasonable time to expect a child in the 4-6 age range to sit still is 15-30 minutes.
- Keep it play-based. All kids, no matter their age, learn through play. Yes, that play does develop and change over time. Kids need play time that does not involve electronic stimulation. they need time to use their brains. At a young age, it may be building train tracks, manipulating play doh, or playing with sticks in the backyard. For an older child, they may be interested in sewing, cooking, robotics, computer programming, or drawing. Make sure your child is having some time for hobbies or play no matter their age.
- Keep it realistic. If they've never been challenged, throw them a challenge, get them out in the real world with field trips and special events. Encourage their passion, but give them new opportunities to find unexpected abilities. Children do need to learn to do things they may not want to, or try something new. Don't overwhelm them, but don't over shelter them either. Kids need to learn danger by doing something slightly dangerous. They need to learn bravery by being around something scary to them. They need to learn hard work by doing something they don't want to do.
- Keep it grounded. There are many beautiful parts to homeschooling your child. Try to keep in mind that you can only do so much, and focus on what you want your homeschool to be. You may even want to come up with a mission statement of some kind. On those days when a different curriculum seems better, or you want to add too much or subtract too much, sit down for a moment and think about what you want from your homeschool. Don't be afraid that it's drastically different than what they would get in public school. It's your school and it should be what you want for your family.