As curriculum fairs begin to advertise for the upcoming school year, I’m surprised at the number of homeschooling parents who spend big bucks on canned curricula. You don’t need to and, in many instances, it’s better if you create your own, suited to your children and their learning styles.
- Provide materials for your kids to play with: paints, brushes, markers, paper, clay or other sculpting material, stencils, scissors, pencils, pens, colored pencils, crayons, old magazines and books to cut up for word play, glue, buttons, scrapbook paper, watercolors, tissue paper, and tape are just a few.
- Regularly visit art museums to see what artists are doing with art–interpretive art, experiential art, abstract art, printmaking, and performance art to name a few.
- Play music whenever possible (as long as someone isn’t speaking) including classical music, kids’ songs, piano music, orchestral music, and choir music to name a few.
- Provide real instruments or makeshift instruments. Keyboards are much more affordable than pianos and have different options that make them more engaging for young children. A toy xylophone is great or maracas.
- March and dance to music.
- Learn and practice fingerplays like “here is the church, here is the steeple, open the doors and see all the people”.
- Read to your child every single day, even if only for a few minutes.
- Read the cereal box, the spaghetti instructions, the signs on the side of the road, and everything that you encounter throughout the day. Your child will learn automatically.
- Provide magnetic letters for your refrigerator and encourage your child to spell questions to you or words, like what’s for dinner, or a message for Daddy when he gets home.
- Provide your child with a library card at an early age and go to the library each week so she can check out books.
- Create rewards for your child that include trips to the bookstore to buy books or ordering them together from Amazon.com.
- Provide gel pens, colored markers, colored pencils, and a variety of writing materials to make the writing experience fun and new.
- Let your child write, doodle, scribble, or otherwise “write”. If she likes to write on her hands, then get skin markers or gel pens that are skin safe.
- Provide a giant whiteboard or chalkboard for your child to write on.
- Provide colorful notebooks with plain white paper as well as colored lined paper. Some children are intimidated by the lines. Plain white printer paper works well too.
- Encourage your child to practice tracing over letters and numbers with her finger.
- Count while you are cooking, waiting at the stop light, waiting for someone to get in the car, and every other opportunity you have in front of your child. She will soon count along and it will become natural.
- Provide counting manipulatives like beans, shells, buttons, or pieces of popcorn to count.
- Encourage your child to play with measuring cups, pouring 1/4 cup of water into the 1 cup measuring cup, etc. so she learns fractions.
- Make large circles and cut them into fractions, encouraging your child to match 1/3, 1/4, and 1/2 sections to their “pies”.
- Provide rulers, timers, and other measurement devices.
- Provide journals to record science experiments.
- Plant seeds together, take walks and bring home leaves and other items to identify, notice the weather as you walk, read science books together, and share kitchen chemistry (bread rising, jell-o turning solid, ice melting, etc.).
- When you take nature walks, make rubbings of the things you can’t bring home or take photographs with a camera or phone.
- Read books about other countries, other cultures, other societies, and people different from you (farmers, people who live in big cities, etc.).
- Read about different careers within your community (policeman, fireman, doctor, dentist, etc.) and outside of your community (astronaut, sailor, etc.).
- Attend cultural events and festivals
- Plan an ethnic meal and learn about the culture it came from.
- Play music from other countries and cultures.
These are just a few of the things you can do in your own homeschool. Do what’s fun for your and your kids. Do what works. Every learns differently, even different kids within the same family.