Family portrait by Sarah Richman, then age 5
First Steps: Having Funby Patricia Richman
[This article first appeared in Issue 101 (winter 2007-2008) of the PENNSYLVANIA HOMESCHOOLERS® newsletter.]
Are you having fun yet?
This is something I often forget. One reason I chose to journey down the path of homeschooling is that I enjoy my children, immensely, (most of the time) and delight in watching them learn and grow. Sometimes I get so focused on exactly what we are learning and when, that I forget to have fun along the way.
I addressed this at the first homeschooling conference I attended as the “mother” this past summer. What do you do when the learning isn’t fun anymore? The answer was, “If you’re not having fun, you should re-evaluate what you are doing and why.” Now, when someone asks for a homeschooling suggestion, this is the first I have to offer. Have fun!
Here are some simple ways we have fun on our home education journey:
- We chant our multiplication tables while jumping rope. The movement gives us a good rhythm for our facts and a good work-out too.
- Try using small pieces of food to practice addition and subtraction. Our favorite so far is frozen blueberries.
- We act out the stories we read. Sometimes it is a large scale production. Everyone may have a role and numerous props are used. When we read the Anansi stories, our sun room was filled with spiders, supporting characters and props, creating a space to act out each story. This led to an even further study of arachnids. The reproductions can also be small and simple, like using six tinker-toys to represent “Old Ironsides” from the War of 1812.
- Play games! This sounds easy, but I frequently overlook this form of fun. David’s favorite right now is chess. Sarah enjoys Harvest Time, (a co-operative game where you attempt to plant your crops before the fall arrives and harvest them before winter’s snow.) Leah’s current choice is Make it Up! When a three year old can make a match showing how a frog develops, where honey comes from and how a sweater is made, it is a great game!
- We dance, jump and march to classical music at least once a week. Tchaikovsky is popular here, especially Swan Lake. When we were discussing loud and quiet music, we listened to two parts from Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 in E Minor’s first movement (adagio and allegro molto). When the music was quiet, we tiptoed around. When it was loud, we jumped! When I picked this piece from our collection I only listened to the first 30 seconds. The volume shifts within nine minutes is amazing! Sarah even started to listen for the “crescendos” and would tiptoe faster, preparing to jump. And yes, nine minutes of concentrated dancing was both exhilarating and exhausting.
- We use the “spelling fairy”. Sarah does not particularly like spelling. While I try to find more creative ways to approach the subject, perhaps not approach it at all at this time, Sarah found her own way. She informed me that the spelling fairy would come to visit. This is a sweet little fairy, about the same size as Sarah, who loves to spell. She takes pride in writing her words quickly, neatly and correctly. Then she flutters away.
When I fail to remember how fun learning can and should be, my children usually remind me. Perhaps yours will too. They also remind me why we are on this home education path – to grow and learn together. Are we having fun yet? Yes!!
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