March 30, 2016

5 Days of Tips to Homeschool Parents: Tip #3 Give Your Child a Voice (It's THEIR education remember?)

We are three days into our 5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents series brought to you by the Schoolhouse Review Crew. If you have been visiting some of the other bloggers participating, you have seen a fabulous collection of topics that fit under this umbrella theme. So far, I've chatted about Finding Time to Homeschool and accepting that It's Okay to Feel Overwhelmed. I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to talk about today, but then I decided to share something that I have learned how to do, which makes our homeschooling experience a lot more smooth. I give my children a voice.
5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents: Tip 3

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Tip #3 Give Your Students A Voice in Their School

What? What on earth do I mean by this? 

Well, let's think about it. When you were in school, did you ever have a say in what you were going to learn? Could you talk about with your teacher the subjects you liked, or didn't like? Could you offer up suggestions on things you'd like to study more about? How about the order? Were you able to pick which subject you wanted to do when? Did you get to pick what books you read for literature? Or help find a math curriculum that fit you the best?

If you were a public schooled child, the answer is probably a resounding...NO! 
You had no input, no voice in how you were going to be taught. In fact, they usually didn't want you to speak unless spoken to! LOL!

I bet you can already see where I am going with this, can't you? Yep. When it comes to your homeschool, give your child a voice. Let them have say in their curriculum. In their studies. Sit down with them and talk about your plans. Ask them if there is something they'd really like to study. Talk to them about what their favorite subjects are. Brainstorm ways that you can work together to get through the ones they aren't so fond of. Have you considered letting them pick the order they do their work? 

I have discovered time and time again, that when I let my boys have a say in what, when, and how they learn, they are much more engaged, and we have a lot less problems throughout the day. So, what does that look like in our day?

#1 After we do morning work, they get to pick the order of the rest of the subjects we do.

I have a list of all the things I'd like to get done in any given school day. Once our regular morning work is done, I ask the boys which subjects they'd like to do next. They get to look at their picks for the day and set up the order to get them done. Naturally, there are subjects they always push to the bottom, BUT they know that these things will still need to be done before the day is over. Having just a bit of control like this--it really helps them. It seems to minor, but it works.

#2 They have a logbook to check off their work

Each boy has a copy of My Student Logbook. In this notebook, I list out the subjects that we are going to do any given week. I black out the days when certain ones don't need to be done, and use the notes section to give extra details, so they can see what will need to be accomplished. I simply take this from my own planner. There is something so satisfying to a student to be able to check off the work they have accomplished. This is also how they can see what needs to be done each day. At any time, they can count what they have left, or make a decision to switch it up. 

#3 I let them bargain

There are some days, when we are on a roll in a subject--like science--and the boys will ask if they can keep doing it. The trade off--they have to move something from today to tomorrow. Sometimes this means doing an extra lesson. Sometimes this means doing an extra subject. Little Britches will say "Please?! If we can do some more of this, I will do TWO sessions of math tomorrow." I like to let them bargain. It also helps me the next day when they "forget" and groan--I can remind them that they bargained yesterday. We note these bargains in the logbook to "papertrail" it. LOL. 

#4 We look at curriculum catalogs together

I like to let Little Britches now that he is older, help me pick his curriculum. I show him things I am thinking about and we look at samples. I might read him information about the curriculum or product and see what he thinks. In my Apologia catalog, we looked at the Young Explorer's series for Science and he got excited about the newly revised Astronomy curriculum. He told me he wanted to learn more about space and the stars. Why would I pick what I think would be fun, when he's WILLING to learn more about a different area? It's HIS schooling. We will get so much more out of it because he has picked it. I was considering going with the mp3 read aloud version of the textbook, but I asked him about it. What was his preference? Would he like to listen to it read, have mommy read it, or read it himself? He said he liked me reading it, but felt he could help me with the reading now. See how easy that is? Not only will he have the science he WANTS to learn about, but we will present it in a way that he prefers. 

I will add, that there are times when I do NOT let him have a say because sometimes there are subjects he just doesn't want to do that need to be done and I can't trust him to be objective about it. LOL. Pick your battles!

5. We take our lessons on the move.

We are blessed to have a designated classroom in our home--complete with a fabulous white board, cabinets and desks. But some days, the boys ask me if we can do school somewhere else. I keep a our curriculum in a crate, so it's easy to grab it and bag it. We might shift to the kitchen table. But this time of year, we shift OUTSIDE! We have a great big picnic table on our front porch which we are definitely making use of this year. Sometimes, we go to a blanket out in the grass--we use clipboards for writing. Every now and then we take it to the local park. Sometimes if research is involved, we move to the library and stake out a table in the corner. By doing this, the boys learn that school can happen ANYWHERE and that we aren't confined to our four walls.

This reminds me of back when I was in school. I remember on the nice days how much we begged to be able to go outside for a lesson. A few of the teachers recognized that this would indeed be beneficial and let us--interestingly enough it was usually the math teachers. LOL. Oh how jealous the other students would be as they gazed out their windows at us as we worked on our problems or did our reading. 

I have learned over the course of the last few years that doing these simple 5 things really helps make our schooling experience more smooth. It helped me find the "perfect" math curriculum for my oldest. It took care of a lot of attitude/behavior issues too. 

I will add, that my Kindergartner doesn't get a lot of say into what subjects he does, but I still let him tell me what he likes, doesn't like. And he gets to pick the order for things. As he gets older, he will be able to have more input, just as his big brother does.

This is my child's education. I want it to be the best it can be. To do that, I have learned that giving my child a voice in their schooling, will give me that much more power to make it happen. 
This week's blog hop is brought to you by the team at Schoolhouse Review Crew! We have come together to give you a whole week of posts under the umbrella topic of Tips for Homeschool Parents. The door is wide open on what each blogger is going to share, so make sure you visit the anchor post to find who else is blogging! I'm sure you are going to find some awesome posts and I am looking forward to exploring them myself!

Here are a few of the bloggers participating in our blog hop this week--maybe you could start with them!

Annette @ A Net In Time 
Cassandra @ A Glimpse of Normal 
Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses 
Crystal @ Crystal Starr 
Danielle @ Sensible Whimsy

Want to read some of my previous years 5 Days Of series? Here they are for your viewing pleasure!

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you will continue to stop in throughout the course of the week as we continue to explore this great theme and learn new tips to help each other on the homeschool adventure we are on!

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