Questions and Answers with Ann
This Week’s Q&A
Both my children and I are frustrated. The children seem unmotivated, staring out the window or daydreaming when they really need to be hitting the books. Everyone is grumpyI am not sure that I can continue without a lot of changes. Do you have any suggestions?
Relax and don’t give up. Any seasoned homeschooling mom would be surprised if everything you started with worked perfectly the first time out. Homeschooling is a way of life. All good things require periodic evaluation and change. Look at how you can put the excitement, fun and adventure back into your homeschooling. Put the schoolbooks aside for now. The season has just turned to fall and temperatures are cooling – perfect timing.
Revolve your homeschooling around active, hands-on learning like hands-on science experiments, field trips, the local history center and historical place and even Civil War reenactments. Trips to the beach and the local lake or pond can also involve meaningful lessons.
Figure out exactly what you have to accomplish before the year’s end. It’s probably less than you think. Find ways to accomplish the “school work” out of doors or on the way to something fun in the car – this is called “carschooling“. Play educational car games. Sing your lessons. Read fun books about the topics you are learning about. Add some activities to reading – drawing pictures about the most interesting part of the book. Make sure that your children are interested in learning by finding out what they are really interested in. Ask them what they would like to learn about and try hard to make that happen.
Use this as an example to create your own themed lessons: Over a week or so, read a chapter book together about ships or pirates. Look up pictures of big pirate ships and other kinds of ships in books or on the internet. Take time to appreciate their beauty and intricacy. Talk to them about life on a ship. What would they eat? Where does the cook get his food and where is it stored? What are the sleeping arrangements like? What kinds of jobs do the people on the ships have to do to keep the boat afloat? How many pirates does it take to run a boat? Ask if they would like to live that way. Play pirate games. You can make math or alphabet “pirate Bingo” by cutting out pictures of pirates or a pirate hat, laminating them and using those as game pieces. Use those game pieces and others you can think of to count, add and multiply. Use “ship vocabulary” – this might involve spelling and definitions. Ask your children to draw a picture or create their own ship using Popsicle sticks or other material. Together, find out where the nearest shipyard is and get the directions. If the trip will be long, ask your children to help you locate other places nearby that may be of interest. Let your children help map out the trip and ask them to calculate the number of miles round trip and the length of time it will take to get there and back. Please notice that you are not doing all of this. Your children learn a lot while taking responsibility to research and help with arrangements like this. On the day of the trip ask everyone to pack a small bag with some paper and pencils and crayons and possibly a camera for taking notes, drawing pictures on the way and back and getting pictures of interesting sites. Remember to pack a ball or Frisbee or something else you all can enjoy playing with later on.
While driving to the shipyard, play car games to get some studies in and to make the trip go faster. Listen to books or stories on CDs. When you arrive, take the tour and explore everything – take pictures – pose at the helm and the stern. Pretend to be the cook in the galley. When you’ve seen everything you all want to see, then go find a place to enjoy a picnic lunch (of course everyone helped make and pack this meal) and after everyone’s full and lazy, relax and read a fun book about life on a ship. Don’t forget to take the time to PLAY before going home. The next day ask your children to write a short story – leave the content open ended as long as they write a story that involves ships and/or pirates and includes an agreed-upon number of their vocabulary words. Make sure they check their spelling and grammar. They can include art if they want to. Have several new books about boats and ships around for them to pick up to explore and enjoy.
You could expand on this and keep the theme going for a long time by including games, game pieces, stories and books about fish and mapping and other things that you can relate back to pirates and ships. Science and math activities about sonar can be interesting as well as lunar, weather and climate effects on the ocean. Navigation and the stars would also be appropriate as well as World Geography and cultural studies. There are all sorts of programs for tracking hurricanes, and ocean topography is very interesting. All of these can be explored by just about any age of children if you scale the information appropriately. If you want to take the easy road try contacting an company providing a home school program with more structure or fun activities.
The idea is to make whatever you are learning fun through active learning activities. Have fun and make memories.
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