Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Recess for Homeschoolers

Every homeschooler knows someone who hears they homeschool and responds with a smirk and some comment about permanent recess. Some people really think homeschooling is all about sleeping late, watching TV, and playing all day. Real homeschooling families don’t work that way. But on the other hand, public school kids get breaks for recess, so shouldn’t homeschooled kids be able to play outdoors for a bit?

Schoolteachers know it helps kids’ performance and ability to learn if they have breaks in between lessons. Playtime lets kids clear their heads and come back to their desks ready to focus again, and homeschooled kids benefit in much the same way. They can shake off the bad vibes from that math lesson they didn’t like, and be ready to attack their spelling words after playing outdoors for a bit.

Industrious homeschooling moms know how to multitask and combine recess with something else. Maybe collecting rocks out in the backyard can double as time to run, jump, and play while also gathering the supplies for the upcoming lesson about geology. Or have the kids do jumping jacks and then throw in some math to have them calculate the number of calories they just burned, or how much force their feet hit the ground with. Even a playground slide is useful to teach about gravity.

By all means, let your homeschooled kids run and play to take a break. Their schoolwork will benefit, and mom gets a break this way too!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Hands-On Science for Elementary Homeschoolers

If you’ve found a science curriculum you love, it probably covers the basics of what your kids need to learn, at least from book-based learning. But what about hands-on learning? The hands-on approach lets children apply what the textbook says to real life situations, and it lets them figure out how to use the knowledge they’re learning. Science experiments are in invaluable part of school, and they should have a role in homeschooling too.

If you aren’t using a book that includes experiments to go along with the lessons, you can always design your own. Especially at the elementary level, this isn’t a difficult task. Just figure out how the material applies in real life. It doesn’t need to be a formal experiment, with a hypothesis to test, and variables to control. Young children just need some hands-on reinforcement of what they’re learning. If they’re learning about weather, for example, how about measuring the temperature outside on several consecutive days and learning how to graph that data? Measure rain with a rain gauge. Look for trends in the weather over a period of time, and maybe let the kids pretend to be a weather forecaster to give the day’s weather report. Make it fun!

Perhaps a short trip to the park or a nature walk could help kids learn about evergreen trees. In the middle of winter, which trees still have their green leaves, and why? That’s so much more fun than reading a book about trees! Even if your chosen science curriculum covers everything a homeschooling parent ever dreamed of, you can always add some hands-on science to enhance the experience and make the book-learning more enjoyable.