There are a lot of homeschool productivity suggestions out there. Some advocate better routines, others ask readers to peer deep into their inner self and consider why they let certain tasks slide. Usually they advocate making a major shift in your homeschooling style to reach the infamous green pastures on the other side of the fence. You know those green pastures; the dream you have of sitting in a hammock on a sunny afternoon discussing beautifully written literature, or building award winning robotics in the basement. These dreams do not include whining, distracting toddlers, or um… reality.
I love reading about how to improve our school, but I’ve found that it isn’t the big things that help my crew to get our lessons done, it is the little ones.
Entice them into starting
I’m not above a well thought out bribe. Sometimes the hardest part of school is getting everyone to the table, ready to work, with a good attitude. By using a lure like BrainPop
(5 min educational videos) or a chapter of a favorite book, I can get everyone happily gathered. Starting with something easy helps us to gain monentum and seeing a small accomplishment checked off of our list gives us an incentive to continue on and do the next thing.
Keep fingers busy
Kids aren’t mini adults. Most of them prefer wiggling and running to sitting still. Allowing my crew to fiddle with clay during read-aloud time or online classes (We are particularly enjoying the University of Virginia’s How Thing’s Work
right now) has completely revolutionized our attention span. Other simple finger activities include coloring, wiki-sticks, and simple crochet.
Use music to set the mood
Everyone knows that music can provide relief from a sour mood, but we don’t always take advantage of this simple fact. Music stimulates the production of Serotonin (the hormone linked to happiness) and elevates mood even after you stop listening. When my crew is particularly discouraged we take a break and bounce around to an upbeat song like “The Hamster Dance
.” The music doesn’t have to be completely silly, but I’ve found that this song in particular works for my kids, so I’ll stick with it. The energetic rhythm and exercise always give us the giggles and set us back on a productive path.
Don’t be afraid of creativity
I know. I know. Crafts are messy. They take up a lot of time. It is a pain to find all of the materials. It seems as if they de-rail you from the rest of your day. BUT as I’ve discussed before, making room for the mess
is important. Crafts give kids the freedom to explore their lessons on their own. It allows them to use a different part of their brain and increases lesson retention. When we remove crafts from our school I have grumpier kids who enjoy their lessons less, and despite the increased “teaching” time, I have kids who retain less.
Just like the little items
that I mentioned last week, these little ideas keep us on track. Do you have little tricks of your own that have revolutionized your homeschool? I’d love to hear about them.