Monday, April 7, 2014

The first learning post: 5 THINGS I learned.

I know I have done a few posts in the past of products that we love to use to enhance our learning sessions at home, but I've never quite sat down and written everything in one post. I probably should spread them out, but to be helpful to others looking for just one central place to turn to in regards to what has worked for us, I felt like just putting it all by category would be the best solution. Also, as I write these posts, I will provide links at the top for the different topics so that it will allow people to choose what they prefer to read.

So here we are. The beginning. I'm a little unsure of how I even want to start talking about homeschooling and teaching my children.

I first want to let you know that I am by no means a teacher, I have no degree in education, and I have not spent hours upon hours of my time on the internet researching about the best methods out there. I will tell you this, I am a mom of two and I think that one of the greatest tools that we have as parents is our ability to teach our children. Every day. And that there is no need for an education degree in order to be successful in what we already do as parents. That being said, I probably should have spent hours researching, because I may have not made the mistakes that I had made along the way. Then again, I think that that's just a part of parenthood---learning as we go.

Therefore, before I even begin to tell you all activities that we like to do in our home, I'd like to include FIVE basic tips from my personal learning experience.

1. Don't get frustrated. Easier said than done. Believe me though, it is not good for anyone, and certainly this is a big parenting tip that everyone says about all stages and milestones. No exception when it comes to teaching. A lot of parents say that they could never home school because they don't have the patience for it, and now I completely understand what they mean. Also, how special and important teachers truly are to be able to teach in a patient way and to do so with so many students.

I learned. I learned from my own frustrations and I am better now at saying--"Okay, let's put this away for another time" and move along. I try again later or I try something else. Regardless, I let her know that learning should never be forced and that they have an equal say in it. Once I figured that out, it became more fun for the both of us.

Which brings me to:

2. Learning should be fun. This goes with number one, but I definitely learned that my child always learns better and is more into it when I make it fun for her. It took some time for me to figure out what was fun for her. Just as it may take you some time to figure out what is fun for your kids. Every child is different, and every child will learn differently. For us, I know that my oldest learns best when I'm enthusiastic about what I am teaching her, when I include a game {bingo, matching, coloring, etc}, and of course when yummy treats are involved [MATH!]. She retains the information much better as well when it's fun versus when we just read something out of a book or look at a flashcard. She's just like her mama.

3. Allow them to make choices. Just like we allow our children to choose what to wear [given there are a couple options available and not the entire closet], and what they eat {mine would of course choose ice cream any day of the week}, the same goes for learning. I ask her what she wants to learn that day---want to talk bugs? Sure! Lets! If I want to teach animals, I ask her which ones she wants to talk about. The same applies to learning our sight words, or practicing our tracing. These things allow her to know that she is just as much a part of this process as I am, and that she can further express her interests. Now, as she gets older and we will have longer lesson plans {ours are very simple now-a-days}, more planning will be involved {on my part}. My hope then is to be able to sit down with my children and allow them to be a part of the planning as they are now--including projects, topics, and field trips. 

4. Choose age appropriate activities {and time schedule}. Most important is to know what your child is or isn't capable and not to compare them to others and set standards based on that. For instance, my oldest is 3. Although we have been "learning" since she was 6 months old, we never had a schedule, time limit, or expectations for the day. A lot of our "work" was on the couch or on the floor or while we were playing outside. We have a table and we used it when it was appropriate---coloring, tracing letters, etc. To me, activities and being out and about were way more important than doing school work at home, so there would be days where we did very little simply because we were out at parks, or having play dates with friends. That's okay! We used those experiences to learn and talk about things we already knew---like our colors, shapes, counting, and so forth.

5. Use what you have at home. You would be amazed of the materials that you have in your own home that can facilitate fun learning. Gathering things around the house with different colors, using snacks to learn math, making crafts out of paper towel and toilet paper rolls, and making homemade flashcards out of white paper. Although having puzzles and other things created to teach our children can be beneficial, it certainly is not the only way.

I could go on.

I could go on and tell you each and every time that I failed,  how I lost sight of the prize {happiness in learning}, and how I quickly {sometimes not so quickly} figured out what I needed to work on to make things better. Teaching our children is no different than any other first in parenting, it's a whole lot of trial and error. I'm happy to say that I think I've figured it out and that I get excited now at the opportunity to help my children learn something new.  Not to mention, I'm learning every day myself.

It's exciting. It's rewarding. It's a passion placed in my heart and I hope that my children truly enjoy learning as much as I love teaching.

Next post: Topics to teach Toddlers/Preschoolers

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  1. Love this! I'll be starting homeschooling my daughter for reals when she turns 3. Right now we're just learning basics through play and interaction, which is all she really needs anyway.


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