This time of year homeschoolers are already turning their thoughts toward the fall and the new school year. All sorts of questions arise from those of you who are new homeschoolers. A day does not go by that I am not asked a question about homeschooling from some mother who is trying to do her very best but is new to the scene or feels she lacks the skills to handle the job.
Today I was asked how to make schooling at home fun for a seven year old. I'm pretty much a curriculum person having first been a private school teacher before homeschooling. I just like the structure that a curriculum gives. I also like that you end up with a quantitative measure of the work done. This is especially helpful if you have a husband who is not totally on board with the homeschool thing or inlaws who think their grandkids are getting the short end of the stick!
There's nothing like presenting the doubting relative with actual worksheets and books completed to prove that you have been doing "school". But you know what? Lets be real here. Textbooks can get boring! Online schools get boring! My advice to any of you who have children who are bored and unmotivated is to get them involved in outside classes.
Find a co-op that you can join where your child has a chance to learn with other children. I know home schoolers hate that word socialization so I wont use it, but let me just say that our kids do need to get out and play and learn with other children their ages. God made us that way. He made us to want to socialize,it's a healthy thing. Children raised in large families have a huge advantage in that there is usually someone that will want to play what they are playing. You can even have teams when you play games in the back yard. But if you have only one or two or three kids its a little trickier to keep them from getting bored with the whole routine.
When children reach about 12 years old they start desiring to be with friends. Most children are already feeling the God given urge for a little independence. That shouldn't threaten us. Its a healthy thing. If the preteen or teenager did not feel this then there would be something to worry about. God made our kids to want to play with others and attend events with others. This is part of His overall plan; it's the beginning of the separation from the parent and is a forerunner to the independent adult.
Now I know there are home schooling mamas that disagree with me on that. That's okay. I'm no stranger to opposition. I can say that by my age opposing views just do not matter to me. But then again it is every parents right to school in the way they deem best. I just want to caution new homeschoolers though to not try to do it all in your home five days a week. As a rule children will do better if they get out at least for an afternoon. It also helps for them to know that there are other kids out there learning at home.
Children can get inspired from projects other kids are doing. They can get excited about reading a book if a friend is reading the book. Children feed off of each other. A parent who is aware of this can use this to her advantage by finding other homeschool friends for her kids that will be positive influences in their lives.
So now as you plan your new year let me encourage you to plan to join a local co-op or community sports or a book group; something that will make schooling more than meeting with mom at the table for several hours of study.
I have not yet found the child that doesn't look forward to his weekly activity with other friends. Incorporate this into your school week and you will find that it will also help you! You will be able to bounce ideas off of other homeschool moms and they will be women who will understand the day to day schedule and demands of home schooling. You will come home feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the job ahead.