I’ve been revamping my home school efforts for 2020. I’ve been thinking about it for most of her kindergarten year now. I tried a few curriculum, which I may review later, but I just wasn’t happy with what we were doing.
When Homeschool Becomes School
Some people are going to disagree and that is fine. This is not a condemnation of worksheets, just an opinion. Worksheets may work great with your kiddo. They may love the busy work, but looking back on school….that’s what I hate.
I think back to the things I disliked about school. And I realize that my daughter is a lot like me. Probably more like me than her daddy. Which is okay, but it really made me think about what we were doing and why.
For a while I was hung up on school standards and meeting them. Of doing anything to make sure that she was just like any other kid. But she’s not. She goes to school at home, she comes to work with me, and (though I may be biased), she’s sharp as a tack. Calling me out when I pull something silly or do something she knows isn’t quite right. Doing me proud. But those standards are arbitrary. And for the most part, she is exceeding them…with the exception of penmanship…which I’m not exactly worried about right now.
But I absolutely hated the busy work. Hated the seemingly twenty million pages of the same thing that was boring and tedious. I like that we get to play math games for our right start ciriculum. That we are learning patterns rather than memorizing. That it has minimal worksheets. And we are beginning to do the same thing for our reading lessons. Just this week we started playing games to begin to learn our first 100 sight words. Turning connect four and a fly swatter into learning tools. Playing board games to work on manners, and turn taking, and behavior….even math in some cases. We played a cooperative adult board game with some friends and used it to work on problem solving skills.
I like what we do better than what I did in school and I get to spend time with her. Time that, for the most part, she thinks is fun.
The Problem With Worksheets
My biggest problem with worksheets is that they are boring route learning. They don’t actually teach you the material or let you think and be creative. While we should be teaching our child to problem solve, we instead ask them to stay inside one limited box.
Now while it can be useful to think inside the box, its also useful to tear that sucker up and toss it in the trash sometimes. I’ve seem too many worksheets that entirely disagree with a rational answer or that have multiple answers. And while as a parent, you can mitigate that with your own personal judgement, its just not worth the extra time when you could be having fun engaging with your child instead.
Why force them into something they hate, when you can teach it with fun and wonder and whimsy. I get this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but there are tons of resources out there if you aren’t creative enough to come up with your own games. I’ve found tons of free (or cheap) resources on Teachers Pay Teachers or Pinterest. There are also many other home school blogs or teachers blogs that you can find if you just type in what you are looking for. Many of them with printable so that all you have to do is print and go.
What Can I Do?
When I found myself divesting myself of worksheets, I tried to figure out what I was going to do. I’m creative, but I was still stuck inside that old box. I was still stuck in that box. And it was a very familiar box. I knew what to expect and how to do that, but we weren’t learning together. In addition, we were spending more time in animosity than in harmony.
If you find yourself in the homeschool worksheet rut, find a fun way to learn. Here are just a few ideas based on somethings we’ve done or will be doing soon:
- Check out Right Start Math. While it has some sit down learning it focuses on pattern recognition, games, and problem solving to learn rather than rote memorization.
- The other game program we use is Math Seeds (which comes with a reading program called Reading Eggs) that goes through 2nd grade material.
- I mentioned Reading Eggs above. It has an additional program called reading express (ages 7-9), though I am not thrilled with its spelling program.
- Sight Words Swatting. I printed out the sight words we were working on (based on the Fry 100 list) and had her swat it with a fly swatter. She loves wacking those words.
- Sight word bingo. Similar concept only they try to win a common bingo game by finding their words.
- Sight word chutes and ladders. We took an old board and put post it notes with sight words on each square (making it easily customizable) and she had to identify the word when she landed on it.
- Sight word connect four, where you identify a word to be able to place your chip in the game.
- We talk about simple chemistry when we cook (and yes I had to do some research to sort this out).
- Science books from goodwill and amazon. These are not text books.
- Stem Kits on topics that interest your kids. We got one on growing crystals recently.
- Science fun has a number of cheap experiments you can do from home.
- We will soon be starting on Castles and Knights so I got this book. It includes 50 hands on activities to teach kids about knights, castles, and the middle ages.
- Play pretend. Let them imagine they are there. Last year we went to a child hero exhibit at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum. The little one got to pretend she was Anne Frank. From choosing what we might take into hiding as a family to sneaking across a creaky floor.
These are just a few things we could do instead of worksheets. Don’t get me wrong. They have their place, but they aren’t fun and the kids just don’t want to do them. There are far better ways to engage our kids in the learning experience. Ways that make them want to learn and experience more. Which is exactly what we want. There are going to be times when they just don’t like what they are learning, but that doesn’t mean that we still cannot find some joy in it.by