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Choosing to Teach
For homeschoolers, the journey of learning can be one of curiosity and amazement filled with unexpected, stimulating twists and turns which foster a love of the learning process. Choosing the correct courses and concepts to explore with your child can seem like a daunting task for the homeschooling parent. Balancing what the child wants to learn with what the child needs to master can often seem impossible to resolve. The task of fulfilling the curriculum requirements can be overwhelming as the desire to keep the love of learning alive can be tempered by fears about what to teach and how to present courses/concepts in an effective, unique manner.
As with all things, the key is organization, knowledge and preparation. In the interest of simplicity, the first part of this series will focus on younger children, grades Pre-K/K - 6. For younger learners, learning the basics while having fun are the keys to success!
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Read what children love and love what you are reading to them! It is fundamental that both the learner and parent enjoy the mysteries and adventures of reading and not become bogged down by tedious concepts.
For the pre-reader, designing a pre-reading course that stimulates your pre-reader is key. Grouping story ideas, authors, settings, themes, etc., offer fun discussion both during and after the story has been read. It also allows the pre-reader to develop an understanding of setting, theme, idea, and author style.
Weekly trips to the local library, allows the pre-reader to have an active role in the course as he/she is chooses some of the books to read. As reading skills develop, so too should specific topics of interest be pursued.
Knowledge of the fundamental concepts of math is a must. The old adage "When will I ever use this?" rings true when it comes to the basics of math, yet learning the fundamental concepts does not have to be arduous.
Building a math course for the younger student around play activities is the perfect way to introduce math concepts without the stresses and pressures of traditional math. Lego's, building blocks, and Lincoln logs teach proportions, and Barbie's latest spring collection can be used to teach grouping, sorting, adding, subtracting, and later, multiplication and division to organize and build just about anything! As these fundamentals are mastered, standard, colorful math workbooks can be introduced.
Learning about the past can be boring. Dates, names, places, events are factual and urgings to 'remember' them can be mundane to the young learner. However, when history is presented from a unique perspective, the seemingly unnecessary names, dates and events to memorize can become interesting. In this way, history becomes enlightening, interesting and even fun!
The key to teaching history is to know what your child enjoys as a hobby. Planes can become a study of the history of aviation, and the people, dates and events surrounding it. An interest in fashion can precipitate a study of the suffrage movement, or the Renaissance. This study should be as hands on as possible with trips to museums, and historical landmarks, craft activities, videos, DVDs and interactive play.
Science offers an opportunity for young learners to delve into exploration, allowing them to draw conclusions to questions which arise from a natural curiosity of the magical world around them. Answers to questions can be used as a springboard into new inquiry and more study, teaching the concepts of experiment, hypothesis, theory, study and conclusion right in your own kitchen, living room and backyard! If your child is learning about the history of aviation, as discussed above, then start a butterfly collection, study the life-cycle of the butterfly, and how the butterfly is able to fly.
The concept of flying can be further developed into a study of birds, the similarities and distinctions with respect to flight of avians vs. flying insects, as well as why some birds are not birds of flight. Include books from the library about butterflies, birds and the avian species, classification of butterflies, and groupings of various types of birds, and have a fabulous science class relating to bird vs. butterfly anatomy and physiology, as well as an amazing cross curricular unit of study covering the fundamental science material on subjects that are fun!
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The Key to Success
Developing a love of learning is the key to success at any age level. Once you have reviewed the basic requirements of your state BOE, as well as local school, with regard to concepts to be taught in your child's grade, then application is key. Keeping things tangible and knowing your learner allows you to build courses around how they learn, what they identify with in the world around them, and how they can connect the new information to the world in which they live. More importantly, the child will apply the learning, because it was fun.