I homeschooled 9 kids over a span of about 15 or so years. I schooled at the most, 5 at a time. That was my max.
I learned a few things along the way.
I learned that not everyone learns the same way. Some of my kids learned easily by doing workbooks and working through textbooks. Others, well, they just could not.
This post is about the ones that could not.
I have 6 boys. I taught 6 boys to read. I taught 6 boys math. I taught 6 boys the importance of responsibility. I taught 6 boys how to think things through and make choices. Ok, ok– really the last 2 are very much in progress, but 4 of them are doing amazingly well in the gifts they have been given and work very well in.
The reality is this; I cried, I yelled, I vented to others. I made them do their work, I found ways that clicked with them. Somehow, we learned together how to make this thing work. It was not easy some days. Some days I just had to leave for a while but some days, I just could not leave. On those days, they got sent outside to run and play while I pulled myself together and prayed. I prayed A LOT!!
The truth is, schooling your own kids is hard. They are with you all day every day.
The fact is, you have a responsibility to your kids to make sure that they are set up to succeed.
Many kids do just fine in a school setting. Some kids just don’t. I have had kids in school settings. Public, private, and online. I guess I have had a unique perspective I hadn’t really considered until now.
Back to active learners.
Many of my boys were more active learners. We had to come up with tricks to get them to learn. I did use my textbooks and such so that I could stay on track with our schooling- I was teaching several kids and very often forgot where someone was in their lessons. Lesson plans and textbooks helped me to make sure we were progressing.
We found ways to get them actively learning and engaging. We figured out what interested them the most and we made use of that. One was very interested in bats- we still are as a family because they are fascinating creatures! So we found lots of information on bats and even became members of a bat conservation society for a time just so we could learn more about them. Another was interested in trains so we learned a lot about trains. We found places to go that went along with our studies. For trains, we visited train museums, we read books about trains, we counted trains and learned adding and subtracting using his own train collections. For bats, we learned about the areas that bats lived. We learned about the kinds of bats, visited the zoo and drew pictures of bats. We made construction paper books about bats. We visited caves on vacation.
The key here is to unlock potential. Using things they are already interested in, unlocks more keys for learning.
We want them to succeed. We want the best for our kids right??
Real life is an amazing teacher.
My oldest would go and help his grandparents work for a week preparing food for delivery in a food coop. He learned to relate to all people, which he does very well to this day. He is a very caring and empathetic person. A real people person. It was something he enjoyed doing and the lessons he learned there, we could not have taught in a school setting.
He was an active learner for a long time. Once he got to about 12 or 13 he settled in and was able to learn in a school setting and thrived there.
Which is something else I found to be true; not everyone is ready to learn at the prescribed age.
I know, its shocking!
Some of my kids were not interested in school work until they were between 7-9. They did do some school type work but I didn’t try to get them to read and write consistently until they were ready. I kept those lessons as short as we could, even then, most of the time I would have to have them get up and move during that short 20 or so minute time frame.
Active learners learn by moving. They need movement. Here are some ways I used to get my active learners to learn:
1. I had them count place settings when setting the table. Who is here? Who is not? Addition and subtraction was used to figure those things out.
2. I had them jump on the trampoline or swing on the swing while practicing counting.
3. When we were learning letters, they could draw them or I would draw the letter and they had to decorate it however they wanted, they were required to sit there until they finished the picture. Yes, they can learn self control. Sometimes with tears and discipline, but they CAN learn to sit for that short time. If they did it right they could have it done in 15-20 minutes or less.
4. When we were learning sounds they could stomp their feet or clap their hands or jump up and down.
5. We played a game with whatever we were learning but using the stairs. The would all sit on a stair. I would give them questions and they had to answer them correctly to move up a stair. First one to the top, won the prize.
6. We wrote out math facts on the driveway with chalk. Could also be done with spelling words or letters.
7. We visited places. Maybe a nature center or a park. Get a zoo or museum membership. It is more reasonable because then, depending on your study, you can visit as much as you would like. Both also tend to have reciprocal memberships to other museums and zoos allowing you to go to other places as well, which we have taken advantage of when we were on vacations.
8. Read. Read more. Find the books that make your kids go WOW! Some of my kids have read ALL my “Magic School Bus” book. Very science oriented books. We have read ALL the train picture books from our local library over and over again. We have read and laughed at Amelia Bedelia, Dr. Seuss, and Dave and Audrey Wood books. Very often, though I found that my kids tended to gravitate to the non-fiction books at the library. Animals actually are the favorite books from that section.
This brings me to another key thing; Use books to springboard into learning. Read “Happy Birthday Moon” by Frank Asch. Make your own birthday moon picture. Find out whatever you can about the moon. Watch the phases. Learn about the spacecraft that first went to the moon. Take it as far as your kids are interested in it. If they get super absorbed in it, awesome!! If they don’t, find another book! There are tons more at the library!!
9. We learned about something called “lapbooks”. They are books that we create as we learn about a topic. Dinah Zilke has an amazing book called, “The Big Book of Books”. There are tons of ideas of how to create little books, and big ones, to illustrate your own book about your topics. Just google “lapbooks” and you will find a ton of ideas and resources to help your active learner learn.
Now- I know many active learners will not sit still long enough to complete anything. Don’t worry about it. Above all, DO NOT FOCUS ON WHAT HE/SHE CANNOT DO!!! I cannot stress this enough!! DO NOT EVER EVER EVER focus on the problem!
Focus on the solutions!
10. Get outside in the dirt. There is something amazing about dirt and sand. I don’t understand it, but I feel it every time I put my hands into dirt of sand. Its incredibly calming and brings me back to center. I read something, no I don’t remember where, that talked about the benefits of playing in the dirt and sand. Dirt and sand can be used for learning! Draw numbers in the dirt, spell words in the dirt. Make roads and mountains and caves and volcanoes! Volcanos are so easy with vinegar and baking soda and are incredibly fun! Make a moonscape, a dessert, a jungle. Plant a garden together and talk about plants. Make a small circle with string and observe very carefully everything inside that circle with magnifiers.
Sometimes putting away the textbooks for awhile is not a bad thing. Real life is an amazing teacher. Use it to your advantage with your own active learners..
If you have struggles with your active learner please post something in the comments, and I will do my best to help you with some suggestions that I have used.
blessings on your day!