Today my friend Angie came over and we talked about home school. She described how her kids lie on the floor during homeschool and moan—not having fun! She got me going on my favorite topic: school needs to be fun! Life needs to be fun!
Did we forget what it feels like to be a kid? Remember the church meeting that lasted 64 hours? Or the Social Studies lecture that caused overwhelming sleeping sickness? Or the aunt that gave you too-long of an explanation and the struggle to keep that yawn from popping out? It hasn’t been that long, has it? As adults, we have the freedom to get up and leave an ultra-boring meeting or change the subject when Auntie gets long-winded. Children are at our mercy!
So, don’t forget that learning sticks best when it is enjoyed! I can remember high school history class right after lunch (yawn). I can remember endless handouts with a series of dates to memorize for each test. Do I remember any of the history? Nope. Sorry, but nothing stuck. It was such a boring class.
But my kids can vividly remember a homeschool lesson we had on the ocean. I laid out a dark blue sheet on the floor and got out different types of dried beans, split peas, and other legumes to sprinkle on the sheet demonstrating the layers of life in the ocean, and what percentage of plankton and krill that lives there. They drew pictures of the bigger sea animals, and before long we had a very concrete visual aid on our living room floor. It was super memorable. I can’t take credit for the idea—I got it out of a book—but I can take credit for being willing to do it . . . and my children will never forget it! (I do remember cooking mixed bean soup, too. It was a bit of cleanup!)
Every lesson does not have to be a big project, but every school day can be approached with an attitude of making learning as fun and memorable as possible. Educational games are a wonderfully “easy” way to incorporate fun into school. Math games and word games were a mainstay in our homeschool. It is amazing how much can be learned in the format of fun. My phonics program, Happy Phonics, is comprised of games, and the kids hardly realize that they are learning to read in the process. They just want to play! (Happy Phonics just won the award for “Best Homeschool Phonics Program“. Yay!)
So, Mom . . . can you do something to make school just a little more fun? Read one chapter of an adventure book* aloud to begin the school day. Get out watercolor paints and put on some classical music to paint by. Play a word game, such as Anagrams. Louisa is in 10th grade this year, and she seriously learned more vocabulary words and spelling rules through playing Anagrams with me daily, than through a whole school year of vocabulary books and spelling tests. Seriously. Serious fun. We love playing Anagrams, dictionary by our side. She is getting faster at looking up words in the dictionary, spelling a lot more accurately and learning a lot of new words—and we are enjoying every minute of it. Her goal is to beat me, and she is getting so good that I am being threatened daily. But the real winner is what she is learning!
Textbooks have their place, but maybe not on your child’s lap. I use textbooks to give me an outline for the school year. The internet can provide great pictures of the topic you are studying. When we studied Astronomy, we used the Apologia Astronomy book as a basis, but we found wonderful fun on the internet. When we studied meteors, we discovered a webcam on the internet that was focused on a snowfield in the icy north when meterors fell to the ground regularly—we could actually watch them strike the ground over the webcam! We live in a day when making homeschool interesting is amazingly easier than ever.
I think we get so afraid of meeting some state or national requirements that we forget to love learning—as if college entrance was the highest goal of life. I hope we don’t let our fear that our kids won’t “keep up” squelch the fun right out of learning.
Make it fun, Mom! You won’t regret it! Your kids will love you for it, and they will learn so much. Enjoy!
“Don’t let school interfere with your education.” —Mark Twain
*Some fun adventure books to read aloud to your kids:
- Mr. Popper’s Penguins
- Call it Courage
- Sign of the Beaver
- Indian Captive
- God’s Smuggler
- Night Journey
- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
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