I used to stress over schooling. When our oldest, John Allen, was younger, I was always on a strict schedule. We started homeschooling around 9am at the kitchen table and worked until we were done. He did great. He was that type of learner.
Then, Joshua came along. Joshua is not someone who I can force into a schedule. Being on the autism spectrum, maybe I should try harder, as spectrum kids really need a schedule, but that just doesn't work for us. Some things can and need to be scheduled for him, but school is not one of them. We need to watch and wait for the best learning time and environment. As I mentioned in my two part series, Oh No! Could We Actually Be...*Gasp*...Unschoolers?!?, we try to use the things that our children our interested in to our advantage when we homeschool. For example, when Joshua was fascinated with football, we used football a lot in our homeschooling. From math to reading, it was about football. Joshua thrives when we do that. But I stressed about whether we were getting it all in or not.
Jacob is a mixture of John Allen and Joshua. We can sit him down to do work and he is usually okay. When he has had enough, though, we know it is time to put away the books and not do anymore for the time being. So again I stressed.
Because of their different learning styles and schedules, although we work with our kids every day, we can't always fit everything in. Our schedule as missionaries also necessitates us taking days off here and there. So, a few years ago, we decided to be more of a year round school. It's relieved a lot of my stress!
Don't get me wrong, we still allow them to enjoy the usual summer activities, we just use those activities to our advantage. Here are some things that we try to do on a consistent basis year round.
- Do something academic every day. - Even if it just one subject, we do it. I'm not talking about regular homeschooling days, I'm talking about days when life is busy and we can't pull it all together. When that happens, we at least do something. We might assign Joshua to read a chapter in a book, work in his geography book, or spend 30 minutes with one of his Russian language apps on his tablet. John Allen might need to do a few lessons in math or one worksheet of Latin. Jacob might read a story that is on his reading level or work on a math sheet. Whatever it is, it is usually something that they can do fairly independently and doesn't require a lot of explanation from me or Sarah.
- Make everything a field trip. - When we have to take the boys with us to run errands we try to make everything a learning experience. I remember a day recently when we were in Knoxville buying them shoes. Since all three of my boys are blessed with one leg shorter than the other, we have to buy special shoes for them and then have inserts made for them. The shoe buying is an adventure in itself, but after we bought the shoes, we went to one of those humongous grocery stores - the kind that we don't see around where we live. The kids loved sampling different spreads and crackers, looking at the huge circles of cheese and the fish on ice, and buying international snacks that they aren't use to eating. Everything was fascinating and was always accompanied by many questions and discussion. We try to do this type of thing every where we go. Make life interesting.
- Talk a lot about current events or things that we are interested in. - In this day and age, kids cannot escape hearing about things going on in our world. Information is everywhere. It's on 24 hour news channels, the internet, newspapers, magazines, etc. We always try to discuss the news of the day with the boys. We also discuss things that we are interested in now or that we were interested in in the past. Just telling an old story about yourself can bring about a lively question and answer session and discussion.
Tomorrow we'll talk about three more things that you can do with your kids to enrich their learning and make your homeschool into a year round learning experience.