Whether you were a homeschooler before schools shut down or you now find yourself on a homeschooling journey these past three weeks, we are all having a limiting experience. As a homeschooling mom I used to find myself out of the house five days a week, connecting with other parents at my children’s homeschool activities, visiting museums, walking on trails and going to the library. Like non-homeschooling families we have mourned the loss of our daily social connections. However, with all that has fallen away, the one thing that remains is our desire for joyful learning experiences.
What does that look like?
Joyful learning is a spark in the eye of the learner that says, “Wow, look at that!” It is an excited voice that strains to share a thought or an idea about something that the learner knows. It is the intense scratching of pencils, pens, markers, and brushes connecting with paper as scenes, plans, and inventions are created. It is the urgent, quiet clicking of a keyboard as a story or program unfolds.
What are five ways to make homeschooling a joyful learning experience?
Let your children pursue their passions and interests. Their favorite subject, character or pastime can lead to many different types of learning experiences.
For example, a couple of years ago my children loved Pokemon. They read the character guide, memorized all the names of the Pokemon and created chants to remember the various evolutionary stages of the Pokemon. They learned to draw the characters and practiced writing and spelling their names and they had fun while they were doing it. While the subject matter itself might not seem useful (at least not to me), the skills they gained while learning were invaluable.
Enjoy the freedom to do things differently. When, where and how do your children like to learn? What options or choices can you give them?
I have noticed that my children learn best first thing in the morning, and when they feel cozy and comfortable. That means we usually snuggle on the couch to start and then move to the dining room table for half an hour or so when they are in the mode. Going outside always energizes them and it is a great time for exploration, noticing the nature around them and increasing creativity.
Think outside the box when it comes to how content can be delivered. Homeschooling means a small class of one to a few, and can be much more creative in the way that it delivers content.
Over the years we have used audiobooks, videos, TedTalks, podcasts, apps, travel videos, magazines, books, building toys, websites, YouTube and many other means to help our learning.
You or another family member can share a hobby or skill with your child if they are interested in learning. If they want to learn a new skill that you or family members don’t have, see if there are YouTube videos that they could try.
My children know a lot about stars, planets and space because my husband regularly takes time when we are getting out of the car at night to point them out. He has taught them the different phases of the moon in the same way. Whenever there is a launch by SpaceX he invites them to watch.
Give your kids at least a couple of hours of unstructured time a day to allow their brain valuable roaming time. Some of our best ideas come to us when we are just playing around, having fun or exercising our body.
Through a club my kids created with friends, they have learned about chakras together, made up songs, created quizzes, made costumes and rituals. Creative time can be a priceless learning tool that requires no facilitation other than providing help with the means.
What I have learned over the years is that homeschooling doesn’t have to look like learning in a classroom in your house. There is so much room for customizing learning and tailoring it to give your children the opportunity to learn in ways that light them up. So have some fun and explore different ways of learning. During this unusual time of isolation and physical distancing, we need to find joy in all of the ways we can. Happy homeschooling!
I am a Life Coach for Kids, offering programs, materials, and support that parents can use to help their children discover interests, set goals and intentions, and most importantly have fun in the process. I am passionate about learning, growth mindset, nature, and emotional wellness. For more ideas about joyful homeschooling, join my Facebook group Fun and Creative Moms.