This post is from contributor, Kirsten Torrado. Originally published Jan. 2014.
Delight-led learning has always been a priority for me in teaching my children at home. But come January, when we’ve been schooling for months on end, the delight begins to fade. The familiar routines turn into ruts and a much needed diversion from our normal is required.
Here are several ways we freshen up our learning and infuse some fun back into our homeschool. I hope these inspire you with some fresh perspective to bring the delight back into your days this winter.
1) Stop completing worksheets and start playing games.
Instead of workbooks, we do spelling with letter tiles or Scrabble Cheez-It snack crackers. (Yes! They really have those!) Your kids can laugh as they spell their words and then eat them when they’re done. There are also many great education apps for tablets and smart phones that make reviewing simple things like spelling lists and math facts much less of a chore. We love using our Kindle in our homeschool. My philosophy is, if we can make it a game then let’s!
2) Document the learning that happens in everyday life.
My 9 year-old practices double-column addition with regrouping by keeping score for games like UNO, Rummy, and Yahtzee. He and his brother also like to play board games like Battleship in which they are practicing graphing skills. Problem-solving can be learned through puzzles, and so on.
Just because you didn’t “do school” that day doesn’t mean your kids weren’t learning. Keep a running log of your everyday life and you will be surprised at how much your children are learning through their play.
3) Structure areas in your home for interest-led learning.
I loved this idea when I first read about it in Sally Clarkson’s, Educating the Wholehearted Child. As she talked about structuring zones in her house for real-life learning, my heart began to sing. It’s the kind of learning I dreamed of when I first began homeschooling. Organic. Relaxed. Fun.
We don’t have a lot of space for “zones” in our house; it’s less than 1600 square feet. But, we do have room for baskets…baskets filled with maps & atlases, art supplies, books, and CDs. Corners and nooks of our home have become hot spots for learning and we didn’t need a lot of space to make it happen.
4) Ditch the books and plan a fun day out.
Planning a field trip somewhere fun is the perfect way to shake off the winter blahs. I know most people plan the fun stuff for when the weather is nice, but honestly some of our best times are in the middle of winter on freakishly warm days. Just several days before Christmas our family hopped a train to Washington D.C. to visit the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. It was just the kind of inspiration my young explorers needed to make their science and history lessons come alive.
Before you change your curriculum
Sometimes, when we hit the rough spots in homeschooling, we’re quick to think something might be wrong with our chosen curriculum and we start to doubt our decisions. Before you make any costly changes however, try some of these ideas. You might find a trek off the beaten path is just what you need to continue on…and find the delight in your learning again.
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