Monday, July 18, 2011

6 Tips for a Child's Homeschool Schedule

Little kids are full of energy, there's no doubt about that! As they get older, they may calm down some, but they still have silos of stored up energy that we just can't comprehend anymore. (Oh where, oh where did those days go?)

Yet it is our job as homeschool teachers to rein in that energy and focus it on the task at hand: learning. And what a task that can be! Here are some tips to help rein and focus with (hopefully) better results:

Tip #1: Keep the lessons short. The younger the child is the shorter the lesson should be. This keeps them from getting too frustrated because they're antsy. Most experts recommend that you keep a Kindergartner's subject to 10-15 minutes at most. Now, if you're both having fun and on a roll, that's great! But don't push it--it's always better to end on a happy note so that they'll be excited to start again tomorrow.

Tip #2: A break between each subject. Even a short 5 minute break, while you set up for the next subject, can get those wiggles out long enough to get through the next increment of the day. I often flip on a kid's CD and let the girls dance around for a bit. They come back to the table with smiles on their faces!

Tip #3: Make the lessons interesting. If you know how to best appeal to your child's interest and learning style, you'll better be able to hold their attention. Aurie talked more about tailoring the education to your child here.

Tip #4: Fidgeting is okay as long as it's not disruptive. Some children have too much energy to sit still. My youngest daughter is like that. She doesn't even stay still when she sleeps! Anyway, I've learned that letting her wiggle around in her chair, fiddle with pencils, or whatever keeps her body moving doesn't necessarily detract her attention from the lesson at hand. In fact, sometimes she's more focused then if I make her sit there and "pay attention". My tendency to make her sit there comes from MY public school days where we were forced to be still.

Tip #5: Spread it out throughout the day. If you really have a hard time keeping your children from going nuts in the four hours of the morning--spread it out. Do 2 hours in the morning, 2 hours in the afternoon. Work an hour, play for a half hour. Fiddle around until you find what works for you!

Tip #6: Ease into the homeschool day. Doctors and experts advise us to create routines for our children to help them settle in for bedtime--something like bath, pick up toys, reading, goodnights. Why not do the same for school time? In the 15-30 mins before school starts, have the kids get into a routine that creates the expectation that school will be starting soon. At our house, we're trying to be consistent about 30 mins before school starts, we get dressed, brush our teeth, and do our morning chore. This way the girls know that after their chores are done, we'll be starting school. It just becomes habit.

These are just a few of many, many tips--but there's enough to get you started. Remember, homeschool doesn't have to be anything like the public schools we grew up in. We have the ability (and the joy) of making our homeschool our own...just right for our kids.

What advice do you have for creating a schedule that works for our kids?
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