Homeschooling is an amazing opportunity for kids and parents. There’s no other form of education that is quite like it, and it offers so many options.
One thing you may be wondering about is how to make learning fun and interesting?
All kids are built differently. Some love to read and write. Others want to spend all their time outside doing something physical. Some may want to spend most of their time drawing pictures or painting. Some kids may not enjoy typical academia at all.
So, how do you make sure that your kids are engaged and enjoying their education?
Here are some tips to help you keep your school year fun and interesting.
1. Choose Topics They’re Interested In
This may seem like a no-brainer, but homeschooling is a unique opportunity to tailor your child’s education around things that they think are fascinating. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should entirely forego important subjects. What it does mean is you can teach them about things that they want to learn about.
If you’re teaching a child to read, let them pick out books that they like. If you’re studying history, ask them if there are time periods that they are interested in.
Let’s say your curriculum program includes a section on the Middle Ages. Let your kids discover what about that time in history stands out to them. Perhaps they would like to do a project on knights, or maybe they’re interested in learning more about castles. Older kids might find it interesting to study why the Middle Ages are considered the “dark ages.”
The bottom line is, it’s a good idea to let kids lead their own education to some degree (or maybe a lot, depending on your philosophy of education.)
2. Go on Field Trips
Nothing brings education alive like seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, and maybe even tasting!
Field trips are an excellent way of making education interesting. They’re also a good excuse to get everyone out of the house. Too many days at home might become monotonous, so a field trip is a perfect way of breaking up the year.
Field trips can be directly connected to something that you’re learning. If you’re studying the Middle Ages, perhaps there’s a castle near you that you and your kids can explore.
Museums are incredible places that bring art and history to life. You can also visit historical societies, war memorials, battlefields, and other historic landmarks. If you’re doing a study on animals, you could take your kids for a trip to a farm. Doing a unit on astronomy? Plan a trip to a Planetarium.
The possibilities are endless.
3. Do Hands-On Activities
Most kids learn better when they are able to do some hands-on activities. Education put into practice is a really good way of helping kids remember new concepts. It’s also a lot more fun!
According to Ben Mardell, Ph.D. at Harvard University, “Kids learn through all their senses… they like to touch and manipulate things.” Active hands equal active minds for kids as they learn and develop. Research shows that a dynamic education that includes reading, writing, and hands-on activities helps kids retain information better.
Aristotle once said, “For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” Not only do kids enjoy hands-on activities, but it’s also valuable to their ability to learn.
4. Make Something
To go along with hands-on activities, it’s a good idea to let kids make things. Kids love to make and create things. Their imaginations are on fire and they want to make sense of the world around them. Letting kids make things with their hands is an excellent way of making education fun and interesting.
Public schools in the United States are letting go of many programs that were once commonplace in the school setting. Classes like home economics, wood shop, machine shop, etc., offer important skill sets that we’re not valuing as highly as we once did.
Simon Mangiaracina, a STEM teacher in Austin, Texas, said, “I see maker education as a way to find learners who are less experienced with certain aspects of creating and making and expose them to this new world of making and solving problems.”
Making and creating benefits both the mind and the body. It fosters problem-solving, creativity, and critical thinking. It helps with fine and gross motor skills. When kids learn to make things, they’re also learning their own potential. They have a better understanding of their own abilities, and the possibilities available to them.
Incorporating crafts, projects, and free time to make and build is a great way of making education fun.
In homeschooling, it’s absolutely imperative that kids are developing their brains and academic abilities. It’s also vital that they’re developing physically. Exercise is known to help people in a number of ways:
- It can lift a mood and make people feel happy.
- It’s good for muscles and bones.
- It can increase energy levels.
- It decreases the risk of disease.
- It can even help with brain health and memory!
- It helps develop fine and gross motor skills.
- It helps provide healthy quality sleep.
Including daily exercise in your routine is a great way to help keep kids feeling good. Those good vibes will help them tackle harder subjects and help assure that they will be less antsy in their seats.
6. Go Outside!
There’s something about fresh air and the outdoors that can really revive a stale day. Outside provides room to roam around and explore so many things. It’s a perfect learning space.
The out-of-doors is teaming with field study opportunities. There’s nothing quite as memorable as experiencing things you’re learning about first hand. When you go outside there are many areas of science to focus on. You could do a study on geology, botany, habitats, biology, ecosystems and so much more.
Ask your kids to look at the sky they could predict the weather based on cloud formations. Listen to the sounds of the birds and try to identify them by their call. Study the bugs in your backyard. Point out the types of trees you have in your yard. Collect their leaves and do a leaf rubbing activity.
Each day and season offers something new for kids to discover.
7. Play Games
Playing games is a fun way to get kids engaged in education. Thankfully, there are a host of educational board games available for all ages and subjects. There are a lot of benefits to playing games, some of which may be surprising.
Board games can:
- Increase memory and cognitive functioning
- Lower blood pressure
- Lower stress
- Help with immunity as a result of lowering stress
- Help with development
- Develop critical thinking and problem-solving
- Teach important social skills like taking turns and the importance of being a good sport.
If you’re looking for some game ideas, here are some that are educational and fun:
Settlers of Catan – A strategy game that teaches things like cooperative bargaining, civilization building, spatial intelligence, and long-term planning. Recommended for ages 9 and up.
Mancala – A game that teaches odds and probability. Recommended for ages 5 and up.
Cashflow – Teaches financial strategies and resource management. Recommended for ages 14 and up.
Card Game: Crazy Eights – This game teaches matching and simple strategy. Recommended for ages 4 and up.
Hoot Owl Hoot – A cooperative learning game that teaches things like matching and teamwork. Recommended for ages 4 and up.
Memory – A classic game that teaches children concentration and memory skills. Recommended for ages 3 and up.
HiHo Cherry-O – A game that teaches number recognition, addition, subtraction, and counting. Recommended for ages 3 and up.
Blokus – A game that teaches spatial thinking and strategy. Recommended for ages 5 and up.
Happy Hats – A reading learning games created by the same makers as the BOB early reader books. Helps with letter sounds and simple words. Recommended for ages 4 and up.
8. Be Flexible and Spontaneous
Sometimes it’s important to read the room. If your kids are dragging, complaining, arguing, or absolutely dreading a particular subject, don’t be afraid to change things up.
Yes, it’s important to have routines and schedules, but it’s also important to be willing to ease up if something isn’t working. It may be the right time to go outside, take a break, or go to another preferred activity.
9. Be Enthusiastic
Have you ever heard a speaker that was passionate about something? Enthusiastic speakers inspire other people to be excited. If they’re pumped about something, it must be for a good reason.
Have you ever heard a speaker who was obviously disinterested in their own topic? They’re probably mumbling, looking at the podium, and talking in a monotone voice. Everyone in the room is just waiting for them to be done.
Education is the same way. If you’re totally bored when you’re teaching your kids, they’re going to pick up on it. If you’re not interested, why should they be?
Finding a way to be interested in your kid’s day-to-day education can be trying at times. One way to help with this is to find a way to spark the flames of your own imagination. What is something that you’re really interested in teaching? Find a way to incorporate that into your day. Find a curriculum that speaks to you and plays to your strengths.
Be inspired by the educational victories you and your children will have. If your child is learning to read, celebrate when they overcome challenges. Pat yourself on the back because it is a shared accomplishment. Jump for joy when they’ve finally grasped a difficult concept in math, and savor the times when they blow you away with their creativity. Remembering the educational breakthroughs will help you push through the times that feel monotonous and trying.
Take all that enthusiasm and pour it back into your kids. When your excitement shines, it will inspire them to keep going.
10. Plan to Have Breaks
Everyone needs a break sometimes. Your kids need a break, and you definitely need a break. When you’re pouring your heart and soul into raising children as well as educating them, it’s vital to take time to rest and refresh.
You can plan daily downtime in your day (maybe a nap time if you have little kids), and you can plan respites throughout the year. Take a few days off from homeschooling if you need to. Plan mini-vacations that you can all look forward to.
Taking the time to break away from school will help you and your kids avoid unnecessary burnout and stress.
Go Forth and Have Fun
Today, enjoy your time homeschooling. Find ways to make homeschooling creative, interesting, and exciting. Whether you’re taking a family field trip, playing a board game, or just exploring the outdoors, you’ll discover that there are endless opportunities to make learning fun and enjoyable.