Just Wants to Play

Question:

I’ve just started homeschooling, and I’m having a horrible time with my 6 year old son today. I’ve said he had to do the lessons before going outside, but playing outside is all he wants . . . what do I do?

Answer:

Easy answer: Go outside with him!

Six years old is pretty young to “do lessons before going out”. Why not make going outside part of the lessons? There is a lot to learn from the real world, and the lessons will really stick when he experiences them in real life, hands-on, rather than on a worksheet!

Start off with your devotional for sure. Every child needs that. Then do chores or breakfast or whatever. Now, when it is time to begin school, have a little “ceremony”. Flag salute, sing a song, check the weather and temperature and mark it on a graph. Put a sticker on the calendar and say the date. Have a prayer. Recite the memory verse or poem aloud together. That should all take about 15 minutes.

Take a little walk together and observe clouds or look for bugs or collect leaves, or etc. When you do go inside, put the leaves into big books to press, or look up the bug you found together on the internet, or read a library book on clouds, etc. Learn together and enjoy it! Plan ahead and do one science unit per week (insects, clouds, seeds, leaves, trees, etc.), getting library books and craft books and experiments lined up ahead of time, and make the most of being outside, observing nature and collecting things.

Don’t dump lots of paper work on him. He is young, and so much of learning can be done hands-on, even math. Boys need lots of big muscle action. I keep a chin-up bar in my school room doorway, and most of my children still swing on it while doing their memory work. You actually learn better when you are moving! I can vouch for that bit of research!

One child of mine had trouble doing bookwork, so I took his Saxon math lesson, and pulled out legos and crayons and toy cars, and taught the concepts that way. I remember one lesson that focused on learning the ordinal numbers (first, second, third, fourth, etc.). I got out toy cars and lined them up. I wrote numbers on little papers. I asked my son to line up the numbers in order. Then I asked him to park his cars, one on each number. Now, we practiced: what color is the fourth car? Which car is first? How many cars down the line is the 6th car? It only took 10 minutes for him to master to concept that he would have grueled over on a math worksheet.

My Happy Phonics reading program is all games. I created it because my young son just needed a fun way to learn.  Little boys can be restless creatures!

You don’t have to sit at a desk and push a pencil to learn. In fact, a 6 year. old probably cannot tolerate much of that. When it is time for history, read him real stories of history aloud, with lots of pictures. Make some hands-on craft, like building a little fort out of twigs, or popsicle sticks. Look in my catalog or in my curriculum guide (free online) for ideas and resources. There are lots of great hands-on craft idea books. Add historical videos to your list of fun things to do.

I am not saying that children don’t have to do their “lessons”. I am just saying, “make it fun!”. Let him go outside, and teach him all about the marvelous world. Do what you can to help him realize that learning is deliciously fun.

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