At the first of the year, we started homeschooling again. My son has been having kidney stones, and to date he is currently passing his fourth since October. Poor kid. We have appointments with specialists, but because he is not always fit for attending traditional school, we have jumped back into homeschool.
The first time around, it was not a great experience. Maybe that is because he was recovering from trauma, and I needed to back off. But this time he is two years older, much more balanced and happier, and it’s going better than ever. I want to share with you some of the things that are making homeschool so much more fun this time around in case you are in the same boat!
Homeschool Field Trips
When my son is feeling well, we take field trips — like, every day. We got memberships to the local zoo and aquarium. And we travel to all the little places we have always wanted to go, but never had time to visit. School really does make you a slave to their schedule. And the beauty of homeschool is you can tailor it and learn through experiences and not just out of books.
At first, I tried to tie all our trips to subjects we were studying. But eventually I relaxed, and I’ve let the adventure be the teacher. I have learned so much doing that. I know we take these educational trips to teach my son, but I am learning too. It’s so fun!
Vision Boards for Homeschool
I am learning so much that is helping me accomplish my goals. This last week for family night, we each made a vision board. We followed the youth goals and created four sections on each of our boards. Then we made goals for each section: Spiritual, Social, Physical, and Intellectual. And as we take these trips, I am gathering data to help me accomplish my own goals.
For example, in my physical goals, I want to move more. These adventures have a lot of walking, and the walking gives me even more energy. And in the intellectual section, I have decided I need to learn all I can so my garden will thrive this year. Again, ideas and suggestions seem to appear as we take our trips. So I am easily accomplishing goals as we learn.
Another aspect of homeschool that I have finally figured out is how my son learns best. He seems to learn best when he is fiddling with something or building LEGOs. So I have started assembling small LEGO projects for him, complete with directions. And as he works to complete that project, I read the parts of the lessons that would have bored him before. He will even listen to me read the scriptures. (That’s a victory right there.)
He is asking questions and retaining information in a new way. And I am so grateful that there is something like LEGO out there to help keep his mind focused and his hands busy. I think by the end of the school year, we may have more LEGOs than I care to admit. But they are worth their weight in gold for the peace they bring to our homeschool. I am not fighting him anymore, and I love it.
I have tried to connect his interests to our lessons. A blog I read suggested that, and their advice was right on the money. He loves animals right now. So we study them, their habitats, what they eat, how they live. And even though every lesson won’t have a direct connection to animals, with a little creativity, I can usually find something.
Go With the Flow
The biggest change I have made this year is to go with the flow. In the past, I thought I had to be regimented and specific in what activities we did and when. But I’ve learned that education is accumulative.
So if on Tuesday all he wants to do is math, and he is in the zone, we do a week’s worth of math lessons and end for the day. He loves it because it seems to fit how his mind works better, and I love it because we are accomplishing something without any contention.
Find Educational Extras
Along with going with the flow, there are days when history or social studies are truly fascinating to him — so we will spend longer on those subjects and indulge his curiosity. I have found books that support the lessons and that seems to bring things to life for him.
Our history unit is currently studying ancient Egypt. That is a tough one for an 11-year-old boy. But I found a book by scholastic called “You wouldn’t want to be Tutankhamen” that is awesome. It compares our day to theirs and the drawings are hilarious.
I also love this clicking multiplication machine we got from the teacher supply store. My son loves anything that clicks, and it is satisfying for him to hear the click as he finds out if his answer is correct. I love whoever created this. They have a whole line of them for all kinds of math.
I also joined Scholastic. They let us join as if our family homeschool were a regular school. Our home library is much better now that I have them on board. My son gets to choose books like he did at school, and I get some of the teacher perks. It’s a win-win!
Working for a Break
My son loves taking breaks. So we have breaks through the day. We have our adventure, come home for lunch, and get to work. I only get about two hours of real attentive learning out of him per day. And I try to make sure he isn’t getting too restless. When he is, we will pull out a snack, or change locations, or take a break.
I also reward him for working hard with a short day on Friday. Our local school district does this to give teachers some prep time. And since I know his friends will be home from school early, and he needs to socialize, I try to be done by the time they are. This keeps him happy and gives him a chance to see those friends he is missing.
Homeschool provides us with the flexibility we need. But it is always something that is changing depending on our needs. I am grateful for The Good and The Beautiful course material. When we realized we had to homeschool, it was too late to join anything online.
But their books are clearly laid out, easy for me to prep, and interesting. They also focus on faith, keeping the Bible in education, which is something we were missing in public school.
If you are like me and need to homeschool but are worried that it won’t work, try The Good and The Beautiful. They have their language arts courses on PDF that you can download for free to see how you like it.
I hope these ideas have helped you as you try to adapt to your child’s learning style! Homeschool is an adventure and is sometimes a lot of work. But I know you can do it! Just keep yourself organized and prayerful, and Heavenly Father will help you. After all, He supports you in your role as parent of this amazing soul — He will also help you as you help them learn.
Abby is capable and caring. She is learning more about Autism and parenthood every day. And even though she is the first to admit she makes a lot of mistakes, she is so grateful to be on this journey. She comes from a family with many autistic members. She invites us to join her, as she shares her adventures. She wishes to emphasize that Autism is a difference not a defect. If you or a family member have autism, Abby wants you to know that this isn't a bad thing. And you or your loved one are not sick or broken. Together we will teach the world this new language.