Do you feel like you are stuck in a rut? Are your kids complaining about Monday or the upcoming school year? Maybe you all need a little fun thrown into your days. Yes, learning will get done. And maybe, even better, when you intentionally make homeschooling fun. A friend of mine from our homeschooling group recently shared with me wisdom she has learned from homeschooling three boys and graduating two of them (one when he was just 16!). One of her top tips was the importance of making homeschooling fun!
Brenda and her husband have three sons – yes, that’s a house full of testosterone! Each boy had a different learning style that proved challenging to figure out. However, in spite of all the difficult phases, Brenda and her husband are so grateful for the opportunities homeschooling provided their family.
They learned alongside each other; discovered the truths about God together; experienced much as a family together; became sharp thinkers together; and much more!
As Brenda looks back on her memories of homeschooling three boys she delights most in:
- the questions that made them all wonder
- the moments when confusion turned into understanding
- the laughter they shared
- the discoveries they made
- the truths they imparted
- the fun times they experienced together
As I probed her on what made her memories most enjoyable, she shared her biggest nugget of wisdom with me…
Biggest Advice – Make Homeschooling Fun
Textbooks and worksheets can be so dry and boring. They do not make school memorable, joyful, or rewarding. They might make you feel accomplished in a check-the-box sort of way, but they are not what make learning real or impactful.
Act Out What You Are Learning
Brenda is notorious for acting things out or making up silly songs to underscore whatever they were studying. Her children would act out the Bible verses they memorized, and even video themselves in action. When studying history, they would reenact time periods and dress up in character.
Find Ways to be Creative
Teach your children how to be goofy and capture it.
Make meals echoing the geography you are studying.
Come up with silly story starters for your kids.
Take Time to Marvel at God’s Creation
Have early morning nature walks (hot cocoa optional!) to enjoy God’s creation. Even if it ends in climbing trees for 20 minutes after 5 minutes of journaling. Brenda stated that,
“Cultivating a heart and mind eager to discover is worth far more than getting school work done by 11 am, or 3 pm.”
So, teach your children to marvel at the intricacies of God’s creation. Brenda learned that if your kids are enamored with what God created, they will be hungry to learn why and how and when and who. And, they will remember who is responsible for it. When kids marvel, they lose their “I don’t care” attitude about learning.
Explore the Simple Things
Explore that bucket of water that has been sitting in your garage. Watch a caterpillar closely as he devours a leaf from your tomato plant. Enjoy the beauty of a sunset together, even if it is for the 674th time. Count the egrets along the highway. Draw them when you get home.
Look at a scab under a microscope. Or, what about ear wax? Discuss why God made the world this way. Again, marvel at His wisdom, power, and creativity.
Come up with Games
Games can make learning fun for any child. And if you throw in physical activity to the mix, there is an added bonus. It refreshes the mind and the body. If mom joins in, then it’s even more enjoyable!
To overcome flash card boredom, make a game out of it. Brenda would have her boys change their seat or posture, or run around the sofa after each card. This is especially helpful for your more active or wiggly students.
Brenda would also incorporate exercise cards in the midst of reviewing flash cards, which were mandatory for all involved, even mom: push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks. Our family has used this strategy with Bible memorization too. It can keep kids more focused than when sitting down.
To overcome the Monday blahs, Brenda had a wrapped, curly-ribboned gift box she would set on the table every Monday morning. Inside was a little treat – a coloring sheet, sticker page, or even a piece of candy. Just something simple. But, every Monday the boys would see their present on their school table and it would transform their blahs into excitement. It was her way to make Monday mornings a little less daunting to everyone.
Ask crazy questions. Wonder aloud. Learn to voice confusion. Learn to listen. A curious mind enjoys learning. And when kids know it’s okay to be confused about something, then they are more prone to wonder.
Point to the Creator
Always find ways to point to the Creator. Even in math and language arts. Wrestle through how God could be glorified in every subject. As you discover and marvel and wonder together, make Him the focal point.
Brenda remembers homeschooling her kids in the younger years. She remembers it being tough! Figuring out her kids’ learning styles and engaging their hearts and minds was difficult. What she found helpful was making lists of both the positives, blessings, and successes as well as the challenges. These helped her realize her task at hand, keep perspective, and stay grounded.
For example, when the milk spilled into the crack on the table, she would be thankful she could clean it up easily. That was sometimes on her list of blessings. Remembering the little victories reveals God’s faithfulness in the midst of the hard days.
Take Time This Week to Apply Fun
I hope the wisdom shared here benefitted you as much as it did me. It can be so tempting to make sure our list of subjects each day is checked off. But by doing so, are you neglecting the heart of homeschooling? Have you pointed to the Creator? Did you stop to marvel lately and enjoy His creation? Have you thought of ways of making homeschooling fun?
Take some time this week to stop. Brainstorm ways you can incorporate fun into your learning. Brenda shared some great ways to start. Ask other moms too.
If you have something fun to add to this list, leave a comment below. I know I always benefit from helpful hints at adding fun and creativity to my homeschool!