How to Homeschool During Hectic Times
We just weathered the holidays and a family member's serious illness while homeschooling. Phew!
Here's what we learned from the experience:
1. Be realistic and flexible. When things are chaotic, it's not the best time to introduce a lot of complicated new subject matter. However, new subject matter that is connected to things happening in your house is definitely fair game. For example, a family member's illness can be a good time to go into greater depth about human anatomy, germs and even genetic matters. Also, during the holidays, you can embrace the wonder that is kitchen science, as we did while we baked and recorded family recipes.
2. Read, read, read. Reading aloud together can help build vocabulary and touch on key topic areas in geography, history, etcetera. It requires very little preparation time. Pick a book, sit down, and get to it.
3. Be playful. We discovered the EpicWin iPad/iPhone app ($2.99) that turns ordinary chores and assignments into a video game. Kids can "gain" points in different categories such as Strength, Stamina, Intellect, Spirit, and Social. Because the app has a range of categories, it is a great way to incorporate academic and life skills into your routine. You can pair it with other books and activities. In the middle of a busy December, how awesome it was to hear the words, "Hurry up, Mom, and set the timer. I'm ready to read for 30 minutes!" and "Give me some ideas on how I can help fill up someone's bucket today, please."
4. Break the rules--especially your own. Challenging times can be a great time to revisit your approach to teaching, especially your techniques.
For example, I had eschewed workbooks but then I found them very helpful during December, especially when paired up with the aforementioned EpicWin app. My son was motivated to do a couple of pages just to advance with the app, and I didn't feel guilty about not dreaming up something wonderful to do every day when I was either zapped or overbooked (or both). To keep our pupil challenged, we worked from several books at once, including the Brain Quest series (Grades 1 and 2) and the FlashKids Vocabulary for the Gifted Students, Grade 2. Now that things are returning to normal, we can return to our regular curiosity-driven approach to homeschooling.
What about you? How do you and your homeschool crew keep on track during busy times?