Homeschool Subjects: The Three R’s
At one time, the only required subjects in school were reading, writing, and arithmetic. That was later revised to include science, and social studies. Today, public schools have many different standards they must adhere to as far as curriculum is concerned. This includes physical education, art, health, and current events.
So what should you be including in this day and age for your child’s education? Now that we are firmly in the 21st century, there’s a lot more than reading, writing, and arithmetic that should be taught to our children.
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Homeschool Subjects: Reading
Reading still ranks as an important skill – top of the list actually. Teach a child to read and comprehend the selection, and they will be much better prepared for the world. Have them read anything and everything. This includes newspapers, magazines, even cereal boxes. Suggest a minimum of at least 15 minutes a day of reading other than textbooks.
Let your child see you read for pleasure too. Children learn through what they see adults doing. When they see you read, they’ll start to learn that there must be something pretty wonderful about it and begin to emulate you.
If your children read widely they’ll learn a huge amount anyway. Encourage them to read non-fiction as well as fiction. There are excellent books around that really appeal to young children. There are also plenty of fiction books based in particular historic settings which give a better understanding of history than some text-books.
Even if your children don’t like reading, you can still read to them. This is a wonderful way of drawing families closer and introducing your own childhood favorites – even some teenagers still enjoy family reading time! Don’t try to make the reading time ‘educational’, but choose a variety of classics, historical novels and contemporary fiction as it appeals to you all.
We are currently working through All About Reading with our slower reader. There is a possibility of dyslexia (which sometimes accompanies ADD) but we have not pursued testing as the “treatment” for dyslexia at this age seems to be working through a dyslexia-based program, which all about reading is. It’s all about short lessons, not introducing too much at a time, and lots of reviews. All About Reading is a wonderful program for both dyslexic and neuro-typical brains.
Homeschool Subjects: Math and Technology
Complex arithmetic is no longer as essential as it was 100 years ago, with inexpensive calculators widely available. Far more important is to give your children an understanding of mathematical concepts which will enable them to use their calculators intelligently. Ability to reason
is more important than arithmetic ‘facts’.
Of course, you’ll need to focus on the basics of math. That includes addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and fractions. Use whatever you can to get these often dry concepts across. When you’re cooking, take the opportunity to illustrate fractions. Work on time and money while on a road trip or playing store. Learning opportunities are everywhere when you look for them.
A wonderful way to teach math and technology is through construction toys. You may have a budding mechanical engineer on your hands. What better way to encourage their creativity than through class toys like Legos, Lincoln Logs, and Tinker Toys.
Have them build a scale model of your house which would involve measuring, accurate drawing, scaling down etc. Show them how to estimate size and shape by using these building blocks. Let them be creative and design their own works of wonder.
Of course, you will need to make sure that your child is proficient in whatever he or she is studying. Let them dictate their lessons and lead you down the educational road. If they express an interest in algebra, by all means, let them study it. If they want to know more about global warming, find a way to enhance that.
Homeschool Subjects: Computer Literacy
We are in the age of the Internet. Twenty years ago, computers were a new concept. Today, nearly every home has at least one computer. Learning to use these complex machines is essential for a well-rounded education.
Computer skills are likely to be learned intuitively if your children have access to a computer. There is no need for special child-oriented software unless you and your children particularly like it. Even very young children can use regular word processors to type letters and stories, and will quickly develop keyboard familiarity if you encourage them.
Children who struggle with the manual dexterity of writing with a pencil can become quickly confident in typing. Perhaps your child could type a weekly letter to a grandparent or friend, or write articles or stories to enter in competitions in magazines.
Homeschool Subjects: Art and Music
Art and music are critical for our youth. The benefits are incredible. Art and music exposure does more than provide a creative outlet for kids; they provide mental, emotional, and educational benefits — and more.
They also promote movement, improve critical thinking skills, teach concentration, promote coordination, teaches craftsmanship (and attention to detail), promote discipline, improve language skills, teach persistence, encourage teamwork, improves spatial intelligence, has proven to increase overall IQ/intelligence, supports emotional intelligence, are FUN!
Homeschool Subjects: Follow the Child’s interest
A lot depends on your child’s interests, what is available locally, and how many children you have. But the first few months of home education can be a wonderful opportunity for getting to know your neighborhood, spending lots of time at the library and any museums or other local places of interest.
Perhaps your children would like to get involved in helping at a local nursery, or old folks’ home. Perhaps they’d like to join a group such as a Scouting organization or similar. If they like some sort of structure, try to plan one specific activity for each day to give a focus, or begin each morning with reading aloud, or playing a family board game.
If this isn’t sufficient, you could try brainstorming together with your children to come up with a rough timetable that covers the mornings. If they want to continue academic studies immediately after leaving school, try choosing some interesting work books or text books from a
local bookshop rather than buying a full curriculum immediately. Then make sure that your timetable is flexible, something to fall back on when nothing else happens rather than a rigid unchangeable plan for the day.
If you wake up some mornings and wonder what to do, feeling as if you should be doing something ‘formal’ – try widening your scope a bit, rather than thinking directly in terms of academic subjects. For instance my children have enjoyed: web-page design; writing stories/novels without my interference/help except when they ask for it; stamp collecting; programming; graphic design; art of various sorts; music – self-taught and from outside teachers.
Homeschool Subjects: Life Skills
Be sure to include some type of instruction in practical subjects as well. These can include manners, good behavior, grooming, and the like. Believe it or not, this is a learning opportunity for your child as well. The key here is to provide backup and reasoning. Don’t just tell your child it’s important that they brush their teeth. Give them reasons why and show them what can happen if they don’t.
A growth mindset, executive functioning skills, self-regulation, critical thinking, and emotional intelligence are almost more important than academic knowledge in a person’s ultimate success in life. A good starting point for developing these skills is Big Life Kids Journal (and Podcast). Personally I believe these skills are more important than academic subjects because if a child is struggling with these, they will also struggle with academic learning leading to burnout and frustration for all.
I go through periods where we focus more on academics but, I’ve also been known to put the academics aside and focus on my sons personal growth whenever he looses his grounding. As a person with ADHD, this is probably the best gift I can offer him.
Homeschool Subjects: Conclusion
If you are concerned about your child learning those skills that are expected by the state, look at your state’s Board of Education website. There you will find learning standards listed that you can reference if you’re truly concerned about subject matter.
In all actuality, however, if you approach learning as an all-encompassing activity and let your child guide you, they will learn what they need to and enhance their education on their own. You’d be surprised at what kids want to know about when you let them think creatively and make their own decisions on what they want to know.
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