My kids are very hands-on kids. My boys especially but they all love activities and learn better when they can do activities associated with the lessons.
These activities could be: making pictures
building out of popsicle sticks
adding to an interactive notebook
or making a diorama
There are many options for learning activities but they all have something in common
They all take time and they all cost something
While these are not necessarily reasons to not do the activities, they make it difficult sometimes and we become discouraged. I feel that while cost can be a factor in our avoidance of activities related to learning, it is not a significant one. Anyone who has kids has basic craft items lying around and anyone who recycles (or even doesn’t) has materials that can be used. My youngest is especially known for raiding our recycling bin to find materials for something he wants to create from his lesson that day. The cost can cause us to avoid crafts on occasion but that is not the biggest issue.
Time is the biggest factor, I feel. We all have limited time. Those of us schooling more than one kid especially feels this time limit. Throw in the idea of doing activities and crafts related to the lesson and we are quickly in a panic.
I’m not doing right by my kid if I don’t do them
We are supposed to be headed to the music/sports/ co-op right now
I have no time for my other kids’ lesson if I take time now to do the activity
These thoughts and many more races through our minds when we come across an activity in our kids’ lessons and often we feel frantic and guilt. Don’t. Take a breath and calm your mind for a minute. If you cannot do every activity ever suggested for a lesson that is ok. Your kids do not need to do every single one of them.
Let me make a few suggestions to help calm your stress.
First, limit activities to a certain number for the whole family. When you are schooling multiple kids, the number of activities can add up fast. There are history projects, science exploration experiments, language arts projects, and even math notebooking that all can be suggested. Multiply it by 3 or 5 kids and you are quickly overwhelmed. Try picking activities that relate to things your child struggles with. I personally had a hard time with history but any time I was able to connect a craft or activity to the lesson, I got it. If your child has a harder time with math, set aside time to do the notebooking and hands-on activities. Do not worry so much about the other activities, just the ones that your child would benefit the most from. That alone will limit the number of activities you need to do with your kids each week.
Another suggestion is to do activities on a single day during the week. Not all homeschoolers do a four day a week lesson format but this is not only for them. If you do a four day a week format, this will be easier, you just put the activities on that last day to help review what you learned that week and have fun together. If you have a five-day schedule like us, either make it so Friday isn’t that much of a work heavy day and do it then or do the activities on Saturday. When I first tried to do this on Saturday I was sure my kids would groan and complain about “school on the weekend” but they all enjoyed everything we did, so much so that they wanted to keep doing more. At that point, I kicked them outside to play but that is the perfect time to stop. Have the fun with the lessons doing the activities and then let them go play and explore what they learned in play.
Finally, keep it simple. Yes, the activity suggestion says for you to paint with watercolor and try to copy a famous artist’s work ….. but watercolors are a challenge to work with for kids who are not used to it. I change it and have them use tempora paints. The activity might tell you to go to hobby lobby and purchase model trees to use in the diorama, but making them out of construction paper you already have on hand is easier. Your kids would even love to go outside to find some small twigs to use as the trunk of the tree and then glue balled up green construction paper to the top. Or the activity might tell you to bake some sweet treat that was mentioned in the book with your kid but either your skills are not up to par or you do not have the ingredients. Make something simple with your kid. You can even make shapes from a pancake mix that might relate to the story. (Don’t try to go crazy with that. You will be quickly overwhelmed again. I personally cannot make an actors portrait out of pancakes). The point is, you do not have to do the activity exactly how they say for it to be meaningful to your kiddo.
These are only three suggestions out of many that I have found over the years but these are the most helpful to me. I hope you find them helpful and that you are able to incorporate activities with your kids while still enjoying the learning experiences. I have as much fun with my kids doing activities as they do and we all laugh and giggle and yes, sometimes even make messes. I don’t mind a bit of a mess.
We are learning and making memories together.
Greetings! My name is Joy and I am currently a stay at home mom who is homeschooling her three kids in South Carolina. I love learning and I love sharing the love of learning with others so getting to home school my kids and watch the “ah-ha” moments when they understand something is unbelievably rewarding. I have been homeschooling since my twins were preschool age so we are going on 8 years now. I am also a military spouse so we have the added joy of being a military family with some of the complications that come with it. As a family, we stay busy with our scouting groups, American Heritage Girls and TrailLife, and we do many camping and hiking trips with them. When I have downtime, I am typically reading books I have sitting around the house, on YouTube/websites getting more information on different home school programs or working on plans for homeschool. I look forward to being able to share our experiences with everyone and help encourage all homeschooling families.