With public schools in British Columbia remaining closed and the school year underway, parents are wondering how their kids will keep up while missing crucial days of school. Some fear that children left out of school too long will lose the learning they’ve already received.
Parents, there is much you can do to help your children retain what they’ve learned and continue to progress in their education without buying expensive curriculum or tying kids down to worksheets and reports.
As a homeschooling parent, I am always looking for ways to help my children learn in a fun, hands-on environment. As often as I can I look for ways to integrate a practical application to the topics they are learning. Engaging kids in learning can be fun and easy, though it might also be a little messy. Here are a list of just a few ways you can help your kids learn at home:
Read good books. Read to your kids as well as having them read at their reading level. Let them choose good books at the library (we love historical fiction or non-fiction geography or science books).
Journaling. Google “journaling prompts” to get started and let them follow a prompt without correcting spelling or grammar. Make their journals safe places to write to spur excitement about writing. I ask for three sentences from beginning or struggling writers or set a timer for 10-15 minutes.
Letter writing. My kids prefer letter writing to every other kind because it makes writing personal. I like it because it teaches a conversational style that is foundational to communication.
Set a creative example by participating with them. My kids started writing limericks and poetry after they watched me write some.
Spelling can be improved with word games like Scrabble or Boggle. Play at home or have them challenge their friends online.
Make their reading come alive! Have them read a story and then act it out as a play. For history, have them dress up as characters from their book, or make a meal described in the story.
Kids love experiments, and many can be done using supplies found in the home.
Baking can help teach chemistry. Try leaving out a crucial ingredient like baking soda and you’ll see what I mean.
Take nature walks, using nature journals or a camera for documentation. Get a bird book and identify birds. Watch cloud formations, constellations, moon cycles. Collect rocks. Look for fossils, animal tracks, birds’ nests.
Download a GPS app for your phone and find geo-caches in your area. Let the kids do the navigating! Tumbler Ridge has so many great sites to explore. Use this time out of school to explore without the company of summer’s mosquitoes and black flies.
Drill your kids on math facts to build fluency and speed. I like xtramath.org and Khan Academy.
Bake with kids to strengthen measuring and fraction skills. Kids needing to learn multiplying and dividing fractions can try doubling or halving a recipe.
Use maps to supplement reading (measure area/distance of a city/country being studied) and learn navigation. Have them help you plan a trip and determine distance traveled, fuel economy, or learn metric/imperial conversions.
Board games like Monopoly are fun for teaching basic math skills, the value of money and budgeting. Having kids keep score (we like a dice game that involves counting 50s, 100s and 1000s) can strengthen math skills and show a practical application.
Bring cash to the grocery store. Have them keep track of the items you are buying so as not to go over budget, pay and count change.
Build something from wood or paper that involves cutting and measuring. Even a pre-cut craft kit will strengthen children’s ability to follow directions.
These are just a few of many things you can do with your kids to encourage learning, strengthen their brains and give them a varied, interesting education, without feeling like work. As a homeschooling mom, I try to use at least one of these ideas every day, and I love seeing them happen outside of school, as my kids play without knowing that what they are doing is actually educational.
Angela Fehr is an artist and homeschooling mom. You can find her and get more ideas in the Dawson Creek Area Homeschoolers group on Facebook.