Children, when given a wholesome childhood, will love learning. As you welcome in the new homeschool year, one thing that you can do to continue to encourage this is to add some fun into the mix.
What follows are some suggestions for nurturing your child's love of learning in the homeschool room (or out of it!).
Study in the Outdoors
Take your children to the park to study.
1) The park is a welcome alternative to the schoolroom when the weather is pleasant. Your children can lie in the grass and read a book while getting a change of scenery and some sunshine at the same time.
The park may not be the best setting for paperwork unless there is no wind at all, and then they could sit at the picnic tables and do whatever paperwork they have.
Pack a favorite snack they enjoy to sweeten their day even more.
You can also bring along a book for yourself because you'll have plenty of time to read too (unless you're chasing young children!)
Do Science in the Field
2) Science is fun when it's studied in the real world. Not all science topics are suitable for learning outdoors, but you can do more science outdoors than you might realize.
Anything to do with observation of the natural world such as studying trees, animals, rocks, marine life and the atmosphere can be taught outdoors according to what's available in your area.
3) One activity your children can do is to study the local trees. Using a book about trees, they can identify the tree and remove one of its leaves. They can learn to identify the tree by its leaves.
When they get home, they can glue the leaves they've collected to a piece of paper. Under each leaf, your child would write the name of the leaf.
Now he has a record of the trees he's identified. He can use his sheet to memorize the names of each tree he's identified and the type of leaf it has. On another piece of paper he could sketch the leaf and color it in using colored pencils.
You can include more information depending upon the age of the child. The child can learn that most trees have a long trunk, branches, and leaves. If there are any tree trunks in sight, he can count the age of the tree by how many rings formed in the trunk.
You can explain about how trees reproduce and discuss any unusual features to your local trees.
In Northern California, we have great redwood trees and a national park where the children can count the rings of the tree trunk which is always exciting.
4) Most cities have petting farms where children can visit the farm and see the animals, pet them, and hear the different sounds they make. Children are usually familiar with common farm animals from reading books such as horses, chickens, cows, and rabbits. They may already know a lot about them but nothing replaces the experience of witnessing a live animal.
Children are fascinated with animals and can spend hours at a petting zoo. Before you decide on a farm to visit, call around, and find the one that offers the widest variety of animals. My favorite petting farm is one that has peacocks; they’re so gorgeous when they spread their feathers!
Another activity children like to do is learn about the tracks different animals make and then identify them.
An excellent book for introducing children to different animals and their habitats is called The Burgess Animal Book for Children. This book would be the perfect accompaniment to any elementary study of the natural world.
5) Another activity you can do with your children is bird watching. You don't need to go anywhere either; your backyard or a local park is all you need.
Sit quietly, teach them to look and listen for the different birds and their unique songs. Use a bird book specific to where you live to identify your local birds. A book we liked is the National Geographic's book: Field Guide to the Birds of North America. You can use the link to find the National Geographic book for your region.
6) Not everyone is lucky enough to live near the ocean, but if you do, you can take a trip to a coastal spot where you can teach your children about marine life in your area.
If you have a beach with shells, you can have them collect shells and identify the common shells. Teach your children about any plant life you might see and the kind of fish that live in your part of the ocean.
Children Love Rocks
7. If you have an area with big rocks, you can take your children to see the rocks and even climb them. You can teach them the basics of how rocks form and the various uses we have for rocks.
They can even collect some rocks from their backyard or while on a hike, and you can buy a rock polisher and let the children polish the rocks. They can even use the rocks they polish to make their own jewelry!
(And don't miss the opportunity to remind them that the outside does not always reflect what's on the inside!)
Granite in its uncut form is not pretty. But who doesn't love a beautiful granite countertop? If you have granite countertops in your home, you can explain to your children how the granite was once uncut stone from the Earth.
Learning is more enjoyable and memorable for children when done in the real world. The children can see with their eyes, hear with their ears, smell with their noses, and feel with their hands as they learn.
The more senses you can involve in your children's learning processes–and this is true for all ages–the more they will remember.
A word of caution: learning is fun, but not always.
There are subjects children need to learn like math and grammar which aren't always exciting.
You never want to sacrifice learning things of importance and value because your child might not think it's fun.
Learning is fun, but sometimes it's not, and that's fine too.
Please join the Smart Homeschooler Academy waiting list to be notified when enrollment opens again for its signature course: How to Give Your Child a Private-School Education at Home.
Elizabeth Y. Hanson combines her training in holistic medicine, “Love and Leadership” parenting coach certificate, plus 17+ years working in education to provide you with a unique approach to raising and educating your children.
A veteran homeschooler herself, she now has two homeschooled children in college.
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