Homeschooling: A Series (Part Three)

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homeschooling series
We have always homeschooled so my kids don’t really know a different way of life, but even being used to being home, being together, and having more freedom kids can easily get off task, distracted, or misuse their time.

I imagine this is something that parents of schooled children could struggle with as well, but this can be an ongoing struggle in families with kids who are home and can have free time with a school day that is generally shorter than the school day is for kids who are in a classroom environment for various reasons.

I think parents with children of all ages would agree that keeping kids busy is always a good thing.  With too much free time, kids can have a tendency to just be much too unproductive with their time, which is not something I want my kids to become accustomed to.  If there is one thing my kids learn from me it is that I am always busy, sometimes to a fault, but this is the season I am in as of right now.

The beauty of homeschooling, I find, is being able to weave the aspects of “home” with the aspects of “school.”  Having older kids take on an active role in the day to day operations of things not only gives them a feeling of belonging but also keeps them focused on doing something.

I should also say that kids do need down time, we all do, but down time during the school day just allows the attention to be shifted.  I schedule the kids’ free time to be in the late afternoon or evening, just as it would be if they came home from school and also had homework.

So, how to keep kids busy?  Kids taking part in chores is an integral part of being able to get things done that need to get done, but there are chores they can be part of that are more “fun” than others.  Some of these may include:

  1. The kitchen.  My kids all love being in the kitchen.  I rarely assemble breakfast.  I may make the muffins, the cinnamon rolls, oatmeal etc., but that is it for me.  My breakfast prepare helper is responsible for assembling all the plates and doing things like making the toast if we are having oatmeal.  I almost never do things with lunch anymore.  Espeically with the meals written out in a menu plan, my kids can more than handle all aspects of lunch every day.  Generally it is a group effort, but it is also great for them to work together.
  2. Laundry, gardening, or baking something can provide the perfect 20 minute break to keep them focused on learning and remaining attentive while also adding some variety to their day.
  3. Schooling the younger children.  There is only so much of mom.  If I am needed for two hours of algebra, I am not going to be able to handle all the other aspects of everyone else’s school.  There is simply not time.  My girls are generally better at teaching lessons in a formal way, but my older son can read books, play games, or do something more fun like flashcards and such.
  4. Playing an instrument and incorporating practice time into the school day.  Even young kids can play the recorder, and if you are not in any way musical there are ways your kids can learn to play an instrument online
  5. Fun school games on electronics.  Sometimes this is on a tablet, sometimes this is on a computer, but having a list of acceptable games can provide some added learning time that is still appropriate within the school day.
  6. Choosing an “elective” like when we were in school to learn.  For instance, my son is really getting into coding.  Adding a “fun” class into his school day doesn’t even seem like school to him.
  7. Don’t forget about good old fashioned recess.  Short blocks of time for kids to burn off some energy, even the older ones are always welcome in our home.  See Indoor Energy Burning Activities or How to Survive the Winter Doldrums Exercise Plan for Kids for some ways to burn off energy if stuck inside

In general, your homeschool day will of much more smoothly if your kids of all ages are directed rather than left to fill their own down time when they are not being taught.

Would you add anything for older kids to this list?

For part one in this series go to Day One

For part two, go to Day Two

Part four will address how older kids can help teach the younger kids

Part five will address how to organize all your homeschooling stuff

Looking for more on how to get started? You may like Why We Prefer Year-Round Homeschool5 Steps to Follow When Choosing a Homeschool Curriculum, or Balancing the Home in Homeschool.

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