Ten random thoughts, off the top of my head, about making learning fun. (In no particular order.)
How to Make Learning at Home Fun!
Make things – This is one of my little boy’s FAVORITE things to do. After we learn about something, he wants to go make it–build it with legos, mold it with playdough, craft it with pipe cleaners… I’m trying to remember to encourage him to do this at least once a day! The girls aren’t as hands on as he is, but they love this, too. Sometimes we have experiments planned, and when we don’t, we can make things up.
Get out of the house – Clever, right? (*sarcasm*) And yet sometimes the easiest one to fall down on. Make sure you get together often enough with other homeschool friends so your kids can build good friendships. Plan field trips and science fairs and other homeschool events. Take off to the library and the park and the snow cone shack — you might even take school with you. =)
Shorter Lessons – Because even adults get bored when lessons drag on and on and on. (So why do we want to put our kids through that?) Do shorter lessons more frequently to bring the lesson to an end before the kids tune out and to keep the flow of the day moving. (And then, you know, follow it with a make and do kind of project about what they just learned.)
Feel Free to Rabbit Trail – If you’re like me, you don’t like detouring from the topic, you don’t want to be interrupted, and you just want to get from point A to point B. (Oh, you’re not? Ahem. Then we’ll pretend this is all hypothetical.) Thing is, there’s plenty to learn in the journey between A and B. So if your kids want know more about one little piece of the lesson, explore it! Look it up. If they want to know if there’s any connection between two topics, research it! They’ll enjoy learning more when you feed their curiosity.
Don’t Skip the “Messy” Stuff – It’s tempting. I know. It’s also THE MOST FUN PART for most kids. So do whatever you need to do to help you feel better about it. Invest in a drop cloth and some art smocks, lock up the craft supplies to keep them out of reach, plan projects right before bath time, whatever! But don’t skip the arts and crafts.
Celebrate the “Holidays.” – Of course we celebrate the big holidays but we can have a lot of fun celebrating smaller holidays, and those fun “nonsense” holidays, too. You can throw in a unit study or just make a pie for National Pie Day or do school in pirate garb for Talk Like A Pirate Day.
Let your kids have some control – Especially as they get older. You may have the final say so, but letting the kids have some input is enjoyable for them, and makes school feel a little bit *less*…mandatory. My oldest, now 12, helped me decide which supplements we’d choose for her General Science from Apologia. She chose the audio cd because it helps her to listen to it as she reads. (Not surprising.) Hopefully this will make tackling this subject independently a little more enjoyable and a little less tedious? (We’ll see.)
Take breaks! – Another no brainer! (Another one to forget way too easily.) Nobody likes working non-stop. Our kids don’t either. That means take breaks during the day AND throughout the year.
Make it visually attractive (for your visual learners.) – Even if you don’t have visual learners, an attractive appearance may be appealing. Our stuff is color coded. When I buy folders, pencil boxes, etc, I choose the same color for each kid every year. This does make our shelves colorful, but the kids get tired of their same colors. Letting them pick pretty pencils and pretty 3 ring binders
for notebooking is something fun they can have some control over.
Cut out busy work – Busy work is just that — work to keep kids busy. Why keep them doing pages of addition problems or hand writing practice or something they’re confident with instead of setting them free to explore and imagine with a book or a project? If your child *needs* to work on some extra math practice, that’s one thing. But if they don’t.. you don’t have to! I frequently let Drama Queen skip half of the problems in a set if it’s something she is confident with and if she got the first half right. (Not if it’s a new thing, though.) Doing it this way makes sure that we’re working on the new stuff, practicing the old stuff a little, not wearing her out on stuff she already knows, and leaving more time for fun things!
These are my random thoughts for making school more fun. I’m not pointing any fingers, but if I were, there would be four more pointing right back at me! Too often I’m too busy trying to “get it done.” I have to remind myself to keep learning fun quite frequently! (Maybe now, though, I can just print out this list and hang it on my bulletin board.) ;0)