Know the Different Types of LearningBefore I get into the short cuts it is worth mentioning that there are different ways of learning – something that I was late to the party on. If you look online you will find that some educational sites say that there are 4 ways of learning while others say that there are 7 or more ways of learning. What is important here is that some children learn better in one format and the more you can gear your educational efforts in the format that your child learns best in – the better results you will get. One common list of methods of learning is the VARK list, which stands for V-visual (seeing or watching); A-auditory (hearing); R-Reading/writing; and K-kinesthetic (doing, touching and interacting). Out of doing the home schooling for 15 years I learned that I am a visual learner – I learn better when I can see something. I also learn well with reading and writing. My children varied in how they learned best. Once I caught onto that I could better tailor the structure of the curriculum to their individual learning styles. It’s wonderful if you can have a course or a class that incorporates more than one method of learning. Here is one other GOLD NUGGET: When your child has some autonomy in selecting the specific area of focus for his or her school project, paper or school work – you will get SIGNIFICANTLY better results. Why? Because they are working on a subject or topic that THEY are interested in. For example, one of my kids had to write a paper on a current event, which might have been in the 7th grade. In any case, I gave my child the newspaper and said, pick a current event that interests you. He did. Then he proceeded to dive into the topic, that HE picked, and he wrote a 12-page paper on it! Twelve pages! That far exceeded the minimum. He did that because he was engrossed in a subject that he selected.
Write ReportsI figured this out relatively early on, thankfully. If you have your child write reports, hopefully on a subject they have selected, they will learn how to research a topic. They will practice their language arts skills of writing. I firmly believe that writing a report is a much better way to get the subject matter to “stick” and be remembered because (1) they are learning while doing the research, and they are (2) covering the same material when they are writing the paper. To really boost this to the next level – have your child give oral presentations on their report. Yes, we did that. Often. Having your child give an oral report to me is the double whammy of report writing. If you want the triple win then ask your child to give the oral report with “pizzazz”, which means something special like a visual display to accompany the report. When the Korean news station (MBC) came to our house in 2007 to do a news story on us because they viewed me as an allergy expert in the U.S., one of the pieces they were interested in covering was the home schooling aspect of our life. So, one of the kids gave an oral report with their visual display – and the producer’s mouth fell open. She could not believe it. She had lots of questions. You could tell she was amazed. My children wrote reports in science and history. They wrote lots of reports, which means that I corrected and coached them on how to write a better introduction and conclusion as well as how to organize their papers. And they learned how to write pretty well. And I have no doubt that they were better able to recall materials from reports than from other learning structures like on-line courses or simple reading and take a test. Just my two cents.
Make Maps & Timelines & NotebooksOne of the best things I discovered although late in the game was the high value of making both maps and timelines. The kids and I made world maps for high school and it was extremely valuable. In a do-over situation I would start having the kids make maps in early grade school. Number one it is far more interesting than most geography course work and number two there is a lot you can do with the map. You can even do historical maps for battles and specific time periods. Along with maps I would highly recommend timelines. You can tape 8 ½” x 11” paper together end to end to get a long piece of paper. It is a visual way to put history in perspective and there is a lot you can do with a timeline. This is the world map that I made when I was home schooling. I happened to have a roll of brown craft paper for our world maps, but any paper will do. The other thing that worked well was having the kids make notebooks on specific subjects like the Presidents of the United States, and they also had a book of the states. These made learning much more interesting because they were working on a project while learning.
Hands on learning (kinesthetic learning)Whatever you can do to incorporate hands on learning will really help you get better results in my humble opinion. One year I did a horticulture and agriculture class for the three kids and as part of that we planted a cover crop over a 5-acre piece of land BY HAND. Basically, we had buckets of seeds that we hand cast over the 5 acres. Do you want to know what they all said? This will never work. These seeds will never grow. Of course, it was an opportunity to teach how many people in other countries cast seeds by hand over their land. Of course, you know that the cover crop grew. It was a very memorable experience. Hobbies can offer a huge potential for learning and can be incorporated into your learning program. Building things, cooking foods, doing experiments are all great ways to provide valuable learning experiences for your children.
Arts & CraftsFor very young children, doing arts and crafts is an excellent way to build fine motor skills, which is something that I did not know early on. Art for any age child or adult provides for an emotional release or at least it can – if not it at least provides a distraction for daily life. It counts for school. Because art is so important and can really be valuable to students, I am going to give you a few ideas of things you can do – while you are sheltering in place with the items you already have laying around. You don’t have to have an arsenal of arts and crafts supplies if you know about the term ephemera. Ephemera is various items, often printed or written ones, that were originally expected to have only a short-term use. You can use ephemera to make beautiful artwork. Examples of ephemera include:
- New or used gift wrapping paper
- Old tea boxes, cereal boxes, or boxes from whatever
- Clippings of pictures or whatnot from magazines
- Words cut out of old magazines
- Stamps from the mail that you get
- Labels from canned goods
- Pages from a old book that is no longer useful
- Junk mail often has some good useful parts to it
- Old ticket stubs or movie stubs
- Play money from an old Monopoly game
- Old candy wrappers
Adventure NovelOne of the products that I happened upon later in the game was a product called “Adventure Novel” by Daniel Schwabauer, M.A., which is a DVD series with workbooks. It is absolutely amazing! While we started this late in the game, I still remember components of the “Adventure Novel” DVD all these years later! That should tell you something. If you are in home schooling for the long haul or you just want to help your child write really compelling novels, then I would recommend this product. I don’t remember the cost of it but it was well worth it – whatever I paid for it. Concluding Thoughts Home schooling has been around since the beginning of time. It was the way of the day before the one room school house. We have had U.S. Presidents who were home schooled – two I believe but don’t quote me on that. You can do this. It is not as hard as it seems although you may be feeling overwhelmed. There is a tremendous amount of online support materials available for free. Let people know what you need. Ask for help. Don’t be embarrassed or afraid to say – what is the best way to do this or that? I hope that you found this somewhat helpful! That was at least my goal. If so, please share this on social media We are all in this together. The more we can help each other the better things will be. How can I support you in this? What questions do you have? I hope you can find some joy in the process. Even though I was forced to home school, I found happiness and joy in much of it because that is what I do. I wish you the best! Please let me know what I can do for you!