In a previous post, I talked about ways to help sleepless parents have the best experience possible during the homeschool years. You read about the kinds of products and methods tips that work well when moms and dads are tired (and whose nerves may be stretched to the limit).
In the second part on this topic, I’ll share with you some additional tips that worked well for me, and have worked for the many other families I have shared them with.
Remember that these early years are precious ones that will never come again. Making the most of this season of life means balancing everything that needs to take place on a daily basis — not just homeschooling. While high expectations and over-the-top homeschooling efforts can result in productivity and earn bragging rights, they only add to the problem at hand. Thinking in terms of “less is more” helps put this concept into perspective.
Proceed down this list to see if any of these additional tips can be implemented in your homeschool today. Then, get ready to enjoy a happier, more carefree day!
1. Set small, doable, daily goals. Too-high expectations can easily end up as failures when days do not go as planned. Setting smaller goals that are easier to reach creates a greater sense of well-being and accomplishment when goals are met at the end of each day. Daily goals do not need to be very elaborate, and may be planned by the week, or even by the day. Goals that include things like reading aloud, playing cooperative games, creating artwork, working with flashcards, practicing penmanship, and memorizing learning songs are examples of doable activities that most families should be able to reach, no matter what the circumstances.
2. Create centers all around the home. Creating learning areas around the home guarantees that children will never be at a loss for something fun-ducational to do. These learning areas — or “Centers” – may consist of groupings of related items that families already own, or can be put together by purchasing inexpensive books, toys and other resources to keep children busy and learning. Endless possibilities exists for centers, including centers about space, insects, magnets, light, music, weather, building, dinosaurs, and so many more entertaining learning topics. Changing centers out from time to time keeps activities fresh and sparks interest in new topics, too.
3. Fill a “Waiting for Mom” basket. I have written extensively about this topic and it remains a favorite among conference attendees, as well. I coined the term years ago and still use it to this day! The idea is nothing more than having a box, bin or basket full of materials ready for when they are needed. I called ours the, “Waiting for Mom Pile”, because it resembled a pile of papers that I kept in the middle of the dining table. I used it extensively for many years when one or more of my children were idle and waiting for me throughout the day. I filled mine with educational worksheets, dollar-store workbooks, penmanship and coloring pages, science activities they could alone, small collections and objects, audio cassettes, and more. Fill yours with anything you like and place it within easy reach. When children call for activities, direct them to the basket, and gain valuable moments of quiet while they continue to learn and grow. Award credit or rewards for completion of activities if you like.
Finally, I believe strongly that preschoolers do not need a formal curriculum. The idea that children so young should be limited to learning some set of arbitrary benchmarks and be made to sit at a desk or structured setting to achieve early learning is preposterous. Individuals and companies selling preschool curriculum products prey upon parental fears of producing children who are not school “ready”. I encourage all parents to do what feels right to them during those years, within their budgets and time limitations. I caution against succumbing to intense pressure about purchasing expensive curriculum products for very young children. And, no matter what research, homeschool “expert” or authority is linked to the development of the product, be aware that many options exist for preparing early learners. Expensive packaged preschool curriculum systems should be viewed as one of thousands of resources in a universe full of opportunities for young students — not a quick fix solution for homeschooling the very young.
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Dr. Marie-Claire Moreau is a college professor who traded in her tenure to become a homeschool mom 20+ years ago. A homeschooling pioneer and the founder of many groups and organizations, she works to advance home education, and is an outspoken supporter of education reform coast to coast. Her book, Suddenly Homeschooling: A Quick Start Guide to Legally Homeschool in Two Weeks, is industry-acclaimed as it illustrates how homeschooling can rescue children and families from the public school system, and how anyone can begin homeschooling within a limited time-frame, with no teaching background whatsoever. A writer, a homeschool leader, and a women’s life coach, Marie-Claire mentors in a variety of areas that impact health, education and lifestyle. A conference speaker, she has appeared at FPEA, H.E.R.I., Home Education Council of America, The Luminous Mind, Vintage Homeschool Moms, iHomeschool Network, and many other events. Her articles have appeared in and on Holistic Parenting, CONNECT,Homefires, Homemaking Cottage, Kiwi, Circle of Moms, and hundreds of sites and blogs nationwide. Marie-Claire can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.