Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Homeschool Tips: Young kids

With the new school year upon us, I thought I should do a little mini-series where I give glimpses into how we approach homeschooling in our family. For more info, you can also click on the "School Room" tab at the top of this page.

Today's post will focus on homeschooling the younger kids.

Teach your kids to read

Teaching your children to read is the most important lesson you will ever teach them. Reading opens the door to all other learning. It also enables kids to work independently in their future studies, as they can read instructions and do their work without you having to spoon-feed them everything. 

Even if you do not plan on homeschooling, teaching your child to read before they enter school will pretty much guarantee their lifelong academic success as they maintain that momentum of being ahead, and having the confidence that comes with that.

Let kids be kids

The most common mistake I see among new and eager homeschoolers is that mom, excited to teach and determined not to leave any stone unturned, does too much, too soon. This translates into having expectations that are too high on younger students just starting out. Sadly, this can crush the young child's love of learning. 

When in doubt, do less! For a kindergarten student, "school" sessions of doing actual bookwork should be limited to 20 minutes at a time, for a maximum of twice per day. If you or the child feel frustration rising, stop right there and pick back up another time.

As a general rule, I do not enforce any set days for school until about 3rd grade. In those lower grades, kids have little bookwork, which can be caught up easily during those times that they want to sit still and there are not more pressing issues needing to be dealt with that day. In those grades, I also do not force the children to work on subjects they don't like. 

Learning in the lower grades should be student-led, interest-based, and hands-on. Examples of this are: Ask your child what (s)he is interested in, and get books from the library on that topic. Have family story time before bed as often as you can. Do lots of art projects, science experiments, field trips, etc. Involve the child(ren) in the daily work of running the home, whether that be watering the dog or keeping baby busy by talking to it. Besides reading, learning in the lower grades should focus on creating a love of learning, building confidence, and training character. Academic achievements can wait!

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  1. Wow this really helped thank you for posting this I don't know anyone in my life that homeschools so I was going at it kind of blindly, but now I'm confident for this coming school year

  2. Have you ever taught in a Montessori environment? You are preaching their creed!

  3. Thanks, Zsuszanna. I'm only 19 yet I'm looking forward for the wife of my youth and for the arrows that God will give me.

  4. Love this Zsuzsanna! Thanks for sharing! I am homeschooling my 5, 10, and 12 year old this year and have never schooled KG level at home before but very excited to do so!

  5. When I started a few years ago I went all academic based. My school age kids are now Kinder and 2nd and while they are super smart and ahead of their peers in math and reading, I realized just how lacking they were in social skills, and simple things like just being nice and helpful. I'm changing gears dramatically this year, focusing less on academics and more on just being a decent human being who can clean up after themself. Just so glad I have the freedom to do that!

  6. Thank you for writing this! I used to live in Finland and they focus on less academics for young children and lots of play learning, and their high schoolers are usually far ahead the US students. I've been wondering how to implement this type of environment in our homeschooling without being too unstructured and potentially leaving things out. I love knowing that less is better when they are young

  7. Thanks for this post! How do you document or keep record of this method for the evaluations at the end of year?


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