It’s 2020… We’ve experienced political turmoil, Australian wildfires, tornado damage, murder hornets, a worldwide pandemic, canceled sports, virtual graduations, and now homeschooling! Don’t let homeschooling add to the stress – let these tips inspire you to have your best year ever!
1. Play lots of games together.
When you’re playing games, you are developing listening skills, practicing following instructions, learning to be a good sport, exercising good character traits (sharing, listening, critical thinking, patience, etc.), and math. What’s great is that there is a plethora of options in different types of games that you can use strategically in training your children!
- Scrabble – spelling
- Jenga – motor skills
- Chutes & Ladders – following instructions and taking turns
- Uno – critical thinking and numbers/colors
- Sorry – being a good sport when losing and counting
2. Travel all the time (field trips!).
You can casually or not-so-casually have some great direct teaching moments on-site on your trips, create memories, expand perspective, and allow the destinations to help teach your children. Take trips to museums, zoos, state parks, attractions, natural destinations (e.g. waterfalls, trails, etc.), different libraries, unique restaurants, creative vacations, and whatever else you imagine! A few unique ones we have on our radar:
- Adventure Science Museum in Nashville
- Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage
- Discovery Center in Murfreesboro
- Ark Encounter & Creation Museum around Cincinnati, Ohio
- Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg
- Rock City in Chattanooga
- U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville
3. Make money.
Who doesn’t want to teach homeschool and make money at the same time?! Seriously, teaching your children entrepreneurship skills is one of the most practical and impactful lessons you can teach. And it can be simple – lawn mowing, handmade earrings, photography, candlemaking, walking dogs, dogsitting, and so on!
When you teach personal finance to your older children, counting money to your younger children, you couple the budgeting and saving lessons with the entrepreneurship and business skills to set them up for success. Personal finance is a subject our children live with every day of the rest of their lives!
4. Produce movies together.
The videos you create together will be memories you can view on Youtube/Vimeo for the rest of your lives! They can be great ways to teach some good lessons. And many times, these activities have the utmost attention of your young ones because they love videos!
You can teach them planning a project, and depending on the type of video, they can learn quite a bit!
- For a video project, it’s helpful to plan it out
- Formulate the idea of the video (learning brainstorming and ideation)
- Create the story and write it down (learning storytelling and writing)
- Wireframe it by quickly drawing out important scenes and characters (learning drawing and critical thinking)
- Produce the video by shooting the video clips, organizing the video shoots, have the script created and used if necessary, etc. (teaching a lot!)
- When the video is captured, edit the video on your computer and export it, uploading it to Youtube or Vimeo, or creating a DVD (learning computer skills, following instructions, etc.)
5. Get messy with it.
Get you an easy-to-clean space and let your children explore! For super young ones, there are definitely sensory benefits for brain development to hands-on messy play. For elementary and preteen aged children, there are tons of ideas for hands-on learning, and getting messy just makes it fun! Here are a few ideas:
- Slime is always fun – you can talk science while you’re at it if you want to, or following instructions as you try and keep it off the hair and carpet!
- Playdough – can you recreate a claymation character or scene? Can you creatively teach an art class while you’re playing?
- Water colors – you can watch tutorials and try and create a great looking watercolor painting, or make a card for a special occasion, or experiment on your white socks!
- Paint – just play your Bob Ross videos with your easel nicely set up and ready, paint a room in your house, spray-paint the side of a bridge (just kidding!), paint a bird house or get a paper plate full of finger paint on a tarp in the yard and learn as you go!
- Cooking – arguably the best teaching method when you enjoy the result of meticulous instruction following!
- Playing in the rain or mud – get out there and get muddy and talk about that geology and minerals, or not…
6. Cook together.
What can you learn in cooking? Math, science, psychology, agriculture, problem solving, vocabulary, diversity, geography, biology, consequences, and physics!
You can very intentionally get your older children’s focused non-screen attention and teach some great lessons, such as the makeup of a tongue’s taste buds, the science behind how certain flavors pair well with each other, the physics that occur when heat is applied, and the math behind the measurements. Tie it into each holiday and special occasion – create memories and teach history, religion, sociology, and the importance of family and friends! Practice Food Network recipes together and expand your perceptions and diversity. Teach hospitality, Golden Rule, practical love, patience, and simply being thoughtful of others’ needs – these lessons will go a long way.
7. Participate in virtual events together.
Especially in 2020, there have been all kinds of neat virtual events to attend, but in our increasingly digital age, we can enjoy interesting and fun experiences that can be really educational and rewarding. Some that come to mind:
- Disney World’s virtual experiences
- Museums virtual tours
- Aquariums showing their fishes
- Lego House live tours
- Libraries doing virtual story times
8. Explore nature.
There is some real emotional and psychological goodness that comes from being in nature and surrounded by God’s creation. There is the physical benefit of walking on a trail, swimming in a creek, climbing a tree, rowing a canoe, and laying on a beach (yes!). Sure beats PE class!
Beyond the physical benefits are the amazing things you can learn by observing nature. Grab a notebook with your little ones and go watch ants at an ant hill. Watch the birds at their nest. Watch the crawdads (aka crayfish). Catch the lightning bugs (aka fireflies). Check out the cocoons!
Talk with your children about how inventions today were inspired by smart people observing nature. Write a poem or short story while sitting under a tree. Climb to a secluded hilltop or grassy field and read a book!
9. Watch documentaries and movies.
There are so many documentaries and movies that are definitely NOT educational and oftentimes a waste of time and brain space, and even teaching things that are opposed to your values. But there are also plenty that teach great things.
Pro tip – take time to make a playlist of the ones you want to watch with your children, and even better would be to plan your shows around your lessons you’re teaching, so when that time comes, it’s easy to start up quickly!
10. Party and celebrate often.
Homeschooling can be overwhelming for both the parents and the children. Loosen up a bit, enjoy life together, party, and celebrate often!
What’s helpful, especially with children who transfer to homeschooling from public school, is to have lots of fun, tying the positive pleasurable experiences with the homeschooling so you create momentum!
Celebrate birthdays, holidays, wins, good grades, and hitting goals. It’s also important to celebrate others often so you teach selfless and caring behavior – others’ birthdays, wins, and milestones.
Homeschooling is such a rewarding experience for a family. Keep in mind that you as the parent educator, are the best and most qualified person for the job. You got this!