Congratulations! You are fast approaching the mid-way point in your school year and have accomplished much, but are you having FUN?
Let’s face it. We homeschool parents have a lot on us. Not only do we have all the responsibilities of other parents, but we also bear the weight of educating our children. We take it very seriously, as we should, but do we sometimes take it too seriously?
We schedule Bible, math, English, grammar, spelling, composition, science, history, geography, foreign language, chores, sports, music lessons, and a myriad of other things into our school days. But do we schedule fun? I firmly believe we should do that too!
We often get so wrapped up in the serious responsibility of homeschooling our children that we forget to make it fun not only for them, but us as well.
Every summer we set lofty goals, load up on a mountain of textbooks, and make great plans for the school year only to find, by the time December rolls around, we are worn out, frazzled, and overdue for a much needed break. When January arrives we discover it almost impossible to restart our engines. Could the exhaustion and disinterest be due to the fact that you aren’t having enough fun? Could it be your children are not? Could the lack of fun be causing dissention in the ranks? So, what are a homeschool mom and dad to do? That’s easy! Combine serious learning AND fun-learning!
Textbooks can serve a purpose, but they are by no means the end-all to learning and are often not the best use of our time or the most fun way to learn. Kids are by nature active. They are just begging for the green light to dive in and get their hands dirty. So, why not make Mom, Dad and the kids happy, all at the same time, by looking at your textbooks in a different light? You can do that by using them more as a guideline and supplementing your textbooks with some fun, creative, hands-on activities.
Are you learning about birds in science? Why not build some bird feeders or birdhouses together. Are you learning about the American Revolution? Have your children host a revolutionary party with friends attending in period costume and contributing an authentic meal of the time. They could even play colonial children’s games and share a brief presentation about their favorite founding father. Just remember, the simpler you keep things the more likely you are to schedule more fun into your future schedule.
But you say, “I’m not a creative person. I wouldn’t know where to begin.” No problem! There are wonderful unit studies on the market that will provide you with all the ideas you need.
Or maybe you think you couldn’t possibly fit in one more thing. Guess what? Using your textbook merely as a guideline will help free up your schedule and give you more time for fun!
One of the saddest things I ever heard a homeschool mom say while I was speaking at a workshop was, “We don’t have time for fun!” Really? Why are we homeschooling if not to have fun with our kids and instill in them a love of learning?
I have scheduled fun-learning differently over the years. Some years, I plugged in their hands-on activities every afternoon. Other years, we just did them a couple afternoons each week. But, ultimately, what I found worked best for our family was to set aside one whole day each week for fun, creative assignments. With the exception of math that day, we covered all our regular subjects, but in a more fun, creative way. It gave everyone their favorite day to look forward to and tended to create more cheerful, willing students the rest of the week.
Take it from me, a seventeen-year homeschool veteran, if I had only taught using textbooks I would have burned out in no time, put my kids in school, and thrown away the homeschool key. Thank goodness for all of us that I did not. I purposed to make learning fun for my kids which, in turn, made teaching fun for me!
The added benefit of fun-leaning? Relationships! Homeschooling is not simply about academics…public school can do that. It is about the relationships you build vertically as well as horizontally. It is about a lifelong friendship and love you will share with your children, forever. It is about them (and you) being able to look back twenty years from now at all the fun you had. Trust me. No one will be reminiscing about that great math book they used or the weekly spelling tests they took. They will be talking about the memories you made and warmly remembering how much fun they had in the process. Best of all, they will be thanking YOU for having made homeschooling so much FUN!
Sharon Gibson is the founder of Homeschool Legacy and author of Once-a-Week Unit Studies.