The past few weeks have been unusual (understatement I know) and as a result I have had numerous chats/emails with lots of different people about their kids and there seems to be a few questions which come through a lot so I am going to try and group them here.
(This is going to be focusing on the questions I have been asked around younger kids)
Follow Your Gut
If you are trying to help your kid with something and they are struggling, really struggling and your gut instinct is telling you that the reason they are struggling is because they do not understand some basics then stop, take some deep breaths and go back to the basics. Making sure they get the basics is vital. A kid struggling to read, who is not confident with their sounds is going to be much happier if you go back to those sounds, go over them as much as they need until they are confident and then retry the basic words. Knowing basics gives the kids confidence to try harder things.
Choose a topic they enjoy
If they kids are not engaging with the workbooks or worksheets you are trying to work on and everyone is getting frustrated, think about choosing a topic that they find interesting. Anything – space, an animal, dinosaurs, a country, vehicles, really it does not matter what the topic is as long as it is something the kid is interested in. Then have a search for topic related ideas – look on Pinterest, websites like Twinkl and Activity village – type the topic in on the search bars and see what ideas pop up. You will be amazed how much the kids learn when it is based on something they find interesting.
Read with them. Read, Read. If nothing else just read and don’t get caught up worrying about “is this book okay?” – which books do your kids enjoy – have fun. Are there stick puppets you could print out that go with the book, possibly some masks, can the kids extend the story, create their own ending or create their own character.
Yes there is no getting around this but home education does take up time. Time to find resources, time to read with the kids, time to watch documentaries together and talk about them, time to play board games, to help them bake, to engage with them. It is time consuming, no sugar coating here because you need to spend time together.
Okay some specific questions that come up a lot.
I don’t know what to do for Art?
A quick and easy solution is print out some colouring pages – but not to colour in to use as templates. The kids can paint on the colouring pages, create collages, trace over one or two items and then try and add their own in. A basic colouring page or template can often open the door to lots of ideas because really giving a kid a blank page and asking them to be creative can be very challenging.
My kid struggles with writing his letters?
Instead of focusing on writing the letters rather get them to from the letters in other mediums. Playdough is great for this. Find some letter templates and get them to create letter collages, trace around the templates and paint them or decorate them however they want. Magnetic letters are also great – most kid like being able to hold the letters and feel the shape of the letters. Try and think – how can the kids create the letters using their hands in a 3 dimensional way? Anything goes.
Think about introducing some Maths manipulatives (something the kids can hold, move around while they do Maths). It can be snap cubes, it can be dried beans, craft sticks, toy cars (yes I have used toy cars for Maths) even sweets. Kids like to pick items up, move them around while they explore basic maths concepts.
Don’t rush in. Are the kids happy with addition, have they done some skip counting? Then introduce the concept using manipulatives they can hold and move around. And get them active, bring in something like a bean bag or a ball, get them moving a bit.
Learning about shapes?
Shapes are a great hands on activity. They can build them with playdough with card with any crafty item you can think of. You can compare 2D and 3D shapes by printing out some basic shape nets and compare them the flat shapes printed on paper. Playdough and craft stick are great for trying a home-made building session otherwise we love our Dive into Shapes set.
They are not interested in History?
What about finding a fictional story based in a historical time period (something like Time Hunters). Read it together, have fun with the story and see if it helps to bring that time period to life. Maybe once you have finished the book you can try and expand, ask them what it would have been like to live in that period, would they have enjoyed it? Just chat about the story and ask them their opinions. See if there is an angle they found interesting that you can expand on.
Reading How to Train Your Dragon series a few years ago sparked a massive Viking Theme that then extended onto Anglo-Saxon England – and it all started from reading the books. The kids ended up reading other Fictional Viking stories (Riddle of the Runes and Way of the Waves where very popular), they read Non-fictional Viking books, we created Long boats, wrote names in Runes, created maps ended up learning about Vikings invading England and the Anglo-Saxons and even went to visit Sutton Hoo – all of which started from a fun fictional book.
You can always think an interesting person to learn about. My son loves dinosaurs so he found learning about Mary Anning fascinating.
All my kid wants to learn about is Dinosaurs / Animals?
Go for it. Really go for it. If they want to learn about dinosaurs or animals then dive in. Don’t worry that all they want to read about / talk about is only animals and dinosaurs. If they are interested in this let them run with it. You will be amazed how much they can actually learn by getting lost in a topic they find interesting. They will read with interest, they will question what they read, they might be tempted to draw pictures, write about the animals, create their own (hybrids can be interesting), geography can come in if they learn about habitats, countries, climate where these creatures live. Maths can come in, measuring and comparing different species, even basic maths problems (get creative – if there are a pack of 4 dinosaurs and 2 lay 10 eggs each how many dinosaurs will be in the pack once all the eggs hatch).
I have been asked lots of other questions but these are the ones I seem to get the most often so I hope this helps a bit
I love, love, love your suggestions for using coloring pages!!!
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This is all excellent advice! I especially love your art ideas and I will second what you said about kids learning so much through deep exploration of one subject. I know that’s true from our early homeschooling days especially. Kids have a natural curiosity so that is one way to make the most of that ability.