Jump Start your homeschooling
by Kim Jaworski, Homeschool Resource Specialist
It happens to everyone. Sooner or later you hit a stretch of time when you just aren't excited about the material you are working with or you just want an extended break. It's normal and it will pass. But here are 25 ideas to help you get excited about homeschooling again. These ideas can serve as an interim plan -- or can be the beginning of a whole new approach to learning. There is no "one way" to homeschool. Explore! Create! Make it Your Own!
1. Take some time and just explore your library - or venture to a new library and check it out!
2. Review a "typical course of study" for some ideas and throw them in a hat. Let each child choose a topic and run with it (research at the library, discover interesting fieldtrips that would match the theme, etc). Or simply let each child choose a topic that sparks their interest. Older kids can do all the digging for info and then organize it to share with the family (Remember 'Show & Tell'?).
3. Check out the Explore Minnesota website (or your state’s tourism site) or a listing of historical sites and find an adventure that interests you. Field trips abound!
4. Make a day trip to a neighboring community. Explore their museums, parks, zoos, historical sites, nature centers and more.
5. Create a survey, then have the kids poll neighbors, relatives and friends. You might ask "What is the most interesting thing you ever learned?" or "What is the most amazing thing you have ever seen?" You'll be amazed at the responses.
6. Stop all formal study and spend time assembling portfolios. It's a great way to review all that you've done and a fun art project, too! (Portfolios for the younger grades can be scrapbook style, displaying brochures of places you have visited, or work samplings of art, lessons, etc). Check out my portfolios article for more info on this option.
7. Dig through your game cupboard-- yahtzee, cards, backgammon, chess, dice games, etc can reinforce strategy skills, logic, math and more. Play and learn! (Hoyle's book of rules can get you started if you want to try a new game or two).
8. Browse your educational supply catalogs -- order something new and interesting! Or order some new catalogs!
9. Spend some time creating a family newspaper edition-- assign reporters to cover family news, interview a relative about some recent event, announce recent births, marriages, etc. Compile it on your computer and share with extended family or friends.
10. Take on a family genealogy project. Document the generations you know, then interview elders, and research even further online, at the library or historical society. Or create a simple family timeline (each child could map their own personal timeline as well, from birth to present, listing any major events they deem noteworthy). Take it a step further, and learn about your family's countries of origin (see #13).
11. Gather up some interesting new recipes from magazines or pull out some family favorites and spend a week cooking and baking. You can even make it a competition – who can make the tastiest muffins?
12. Check out travel videos at your library or online. Take a virtual trip! You can also check out youtube. (This can be a starting point for our next idea. See #13!)
13. Choose a country and make an exploratory study of it-- the culture, their customs, their foods. Then have some friends over for a special dinner party to showcase what you have learned. (This could be a great New Year's Eve party idea, or the theme for a surprise birthday or anniversary party -- "A Trip to _______!"). Travel videos are a fun way to kick off your studies. Check out Rick Steve’s website or youtube for a video of your virtual destination.
14. Spend a few days mapping your neighborhood. Maps can be as general or as specific as your kids can handle. Talk about "scale" and "symbols", and use colored pencils or markers to really make it a work of art.
15. Your library probably has a selection of children's magazines. Spend some time with past issues of National Geographic World, Archeology's DIG, Kid's Discover, or another title. These issues are packed with interesting tidbits, newsy articles and a fun craft or activity, too!
16. Spend some time exploring the many interesting websites on the internet. There are sites where you can virtually dissect a frog, view an African game preserve live, tour the White House, etc.
17. Take time to just read. Either with one person reading aloud to everyone else, or each reading their own book of choice. Make popcorn and get comfortable. The winter months in Minnesota are an especially great time for this. A mug of cocoa, a frosty window pane and a new book!
18. Try something new. Snowshoeing at an area park, repelling at a local climbing site, a pottery project... take a class or explore (safely) on your own. A variety of classes can be found through Community Education, Parks and Rec programs and Nature Centers. Our State Parks also offer an array of nature classes and activities.
19. Ever wondered how they make candy or potato chips? Call to arrange for a factory tour. Or check out my listing of virtual tours.
20. Take on a community service project. Adopt a cause and find a way to help.... a food drive for a local food shelf, collecting hats, mittens, and warm socks for a homeless shelter, foster a homeless animal until it is adopted by a family for keeps, the possibilities are endless.
21. Have each child research a possible future career. Check the internet, library, and even interview someone in that field.
22. Take a trip to a nearby college campus. Explore, eat in a cafeteria, check out the bookstore/gift shop. Talk about the types of degrees and major fields of study available there.
23. Arrange for a tour of your local fire dept or police station. Take cupcakes and thank these public servants for all that they do!
24. Create with papier mache -- a pinata or a sculpture or whatever comes to mind. Paint your finished work or decorate with glue and tissue paper.
25. Write, perform and videotape your own short movie or public service announcement. You'll need a script, setting and costumes. You can recreate a funny family story or present a retelling of a favorite published book or movie. Even fairy tales adapt well for this.
There are sooooo many possibilities. Homeschooling is what you make it, so make it FUN!!