12 Amazing Benefits of Teaching With Games

Over the years that we homeschooled, we played a lot of educational games to help our children learn. Phonics games, math games, geography games, strategy games, you name it, we probably played it!

Our children really enjoyed learning through games! Even now that our children are adults, when we get together as a family, we often play games as a fun activity to enjoy together. Games are great for building relationships within the family!


There are so many important benefits that children gain from playing games. Of course, educational games build specific skills based on the focus of the game (phonics, math, etc.), but I believe games also build other skills that make them highly valuable to include in your homeschool days.


1. Games strengthen focus and memory skills

Playing games improves focus and lengthens a child’s attention span. Games often require memorization or remembering what others have played, so games can help with memory as well. Game playing improves working memory also, which is when the brain holds new information for short-term use to accomplish something. Working memory is an important area to develop and game playing is a fun way to do it!

2. Games build motor skills in the early years for younger children

Fine motor skills with hand/eye coordination are developed with many board games. Some games also help with gross motor skills, such as Twister, and more active learning games.

3. Games build socialization skills

Interacting and getting along with others in a competitive environment is a valuable skill to learn. Games also build the character qualities of respect & cooperation. Occasional conflicts are inevitable in game playing as well, and so there is an opportunity to help build conflict resolution skills too!

4. Games can improve executive functioning skills

Executive functioning skills help us accomplish tasks from beginning to end. We use executive functioning skills all throughout our day as we do our chores, plan our day, organize our room or desk, etc. Specifically, kids learn to plan, organize, manage their time, focus, persevere, have self-control, and be flexible while playing games. All important skills for daily life!


5. Games provide hands-on, active learning opportunities

Many children learn best if they can actively participate in what they’re learning. Games provide a fun way to have hands-on learning opportunities.

6. Games often give a sense of accomplishment

As your child strategizes, plans their moves, and ultimately is successful in a game, they feel a sense of accomplishment, which also builds self-confidence. One of the children I tutored in reading was struggling so much with reading and was very discouraged when I first started working with him. We used phonics games as part of our tutoring time, and he truly excelled at games! Soon his confidence was built enough that reading became more enjoyable. I believe that playing games was a big part of how he became a better reader. (Along with prayer and study as well!)

7. Games offer an opportunity to build problem-solving and analytical skills

Most games require players to strategize and analyze what the best move will be. These problem-solving skills are essential in real life as your child becomes an adult, and games are a fun way to build these skills.

8. Along the same lines, games provide an opportunity for cognitive growth

Having to recall rules, strategize, make decisions, etc. all help with cognitive growth. Each of these skills helps to improve language learning, information processing, perceptual skills and other aspects of brain development. Learning to question, discover, reflect, evaluate, strategize and find solutions will help children’s brains develop well and can lead them to be life-long learners.

9. Games help children learn good sportsmanship (how to lose with grace)

This is something that’s hard to teach, but if you play enough games, and emphasize the importance of being a good loser (someone is going to lose, right?), you’ll help your child be able to handle losing well.

This skill can carry over into real life when your child finds themselves in a situation where things don’t go their way. They learn to accept that life may not always allow them to “win”. They also learn the importance of honesty or not cheating, which is another important character quality we want to develop in our kids.


10. Games are wonderful for helping your child develop self-control

It’s not easy to wait your turn in the middle of an exciting game, but this is important as you play a game! Self-control is developed as you learn to wait your turn, sit semi-still,😊 and stay focused until the end of the game.

11. As I mentioned at the beginning, games can also teach knowledge of a specific subject

If you’re trying to teach a phonics concept, you can use a game! Or math concept, or help your child learn about the United States geography, you can use a game! There are games for almost every subject we need to teach as homeschoolers. In fact, did you know that there are people who consider themselves “Game schoolers”? It’s true! Check it out on Facebook. You too can become a “Game schooler”!

Using games to practice important skills learned or to review information learned in a specific subject is one of the best ways to reinforce what was learned and help the information to stick!

My next few blog posts will give lists of games for the various subjects with information on what other skills they build as well.

12. Games help build relationships in your family and they make learning fun!

Incorporate games into your homeschool life on a daily basis and you’ll see your children’s love for learning grow in leaps and bounds!


STAY TUNED… Following this post will be a series of blog posts with games for the various subjects we typically teach including information on what skills the game will build in your children!

Or sign up to receive this blog in your email box. (I promise I won’t spam you or send you a lot of emails!)

If you have a favorite game that you want to share with others, please share below and I’ll include it in the next few blogs as well! Or if you have a story of how games helped your child learn, I’d love to hear about it!


7 Ways to Be a Godly Influence on Your Children

We smile as we see a father and son walking down the road and the son is the spitting image of his dad, from his looks to his mannerisms, to what he’s wearing.   It’s fun to see children want to be like their parents!

As parents, we have such an amazing opportunity to influence our children for good, it’s exciting to be able to be such an important part of someone’s development as a person, but the responsibility can be a little overwhelming at times too!

You see, the scary thing is that we can also influence our children in negative ways. Our struggles with certain sins can become the same sins our children will struggle with as they grow older. Sins like worry, fear, gossip, complaining, anger outbursts, just to name a few.

Now that our children are adults, my husband and I see some of the negative influences our sinful behavior has had on them.  One is more controlling than they should be at times, another one of them worries too much sometimes.  It’s hard to see our own struggles with sin reflected in our children.  In hindsight, I wish we had realized how much our sins were going to affect our children.

Scripture tells us that this issue of generational sins has been going on for a long, long time:

2 Kings 15:9:

“And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, as his fathers had done. He did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin.”

Exodus 34:6-7

 The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

See Pastor John Piper’s article Does God “Visit the Sins of the Fathers on the Children”? for more on this topic.

The good news is that our sinful behavior doesn’t have to be passed on to our children! We can influence them towards a godly life by our example.

 

But how do we avoid passing on generational sins and at the same time build up and train our children towards godly character? This post will focus on just that!   With God’s help, we can be an incredibly positive influence on our children!

 

 

7 Tips for how to be the godly role model your children need:

  1. Focus on your own relationship with Christ:

 

If you want your children to know and love God, you need to model that for them.

 

They will do what you do more than they will do what you say.

 

If you’re reading your Bible daily and praying, they’ll want to do the same. If they see you bringing your concerns to God, they’ll do the same.  If they see you confessing your sins, and being repentant, they’ll do the same.   If you’re only a “Sunday Christian”, then they’ll be the same.  Or if you choose to skip having fellowship with other believers, they’ll do the same.  If you make other things more important than God in your life, they will do the same. I want to encourage you to make time in your busy life to spend time with Jesus each day, developing your own relationship with Him. May He be Lord in your life.

 

  1. Ask the Lord to reveal sin areas in your life:

 

Ask God to show you areas where you have sinful behavior patterns that need to change.  Do you lack self-control? Do you worry too much?  Do you complain more than you should? Are you ungrateful?  Do you struggle with pride or gossip?

 

I John 1:9:

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

 

I was aware that I worried too much during the time we were raising our children, and I was trying to work on it, but I didn’t realize that I was impacting my children with this sin until it was too late.  Thankfully, God is gracious and merciful and He is redeeming my mistakes. He made my children aware of this issue and is helping those who started following my poor example in this area to overcome the same struggle in their own lives.

 

That’s the good news – generational sin issues don’t have to have a lasting impact as long as our children are also seeking God and His help to overcome sin. But if we can strive to overcome our sins while we’re still raising them, and show our repentance and share any victories with them, what a great influence that will be! We won’t be perfect this side of heaven, but if we’re real with our children, they will recognize God’s view on sin and also His incredible help for us as we seek Him.

 

  1. Pray for your children daily:

 

Ask that God will protect your children, that He will help them not to follow you in your weak areas of sin. Pray for their salvation, for their faith to grow, for God to draw them into a deeper walk with Him, and for God to develop godly character in them.  I am a firm believer in prayer and still pray for my adult children daily if not more! I believe God honors our prayers and will answer.  I’ve seen Him working in my children’s lives many times when I’ve prayed fervently for them.

 

  1. Focus on developing godly character in your children:

 

We can train our children to have godly character by taking time to teach on a specific character trait, teaching them the importance of developing it in their life. For example, you can spend one to two weeks focusing on developing “respect”, or “kindness” or “thankfulness” in your children. There are many resources on the internet about how to develop these character traits in your children that include stories, activities and more. In my planner, The Homeschool Life: All-in-One Planner, there’s a section on setting goals for your children that includes a list of character traits with scriptures you can memorize with them. (go to the “store” page to order your planner today!)  Also, on my website, there are several blogs on how to develop specific character qualities in your children. ”

“10 Ideas for Building Godly Character in Your Kids”

“Gratefulness: Building Godly Character in Our Kids”

“Obedience: Building Godly Character in Our Kids”

“Self-Control: Building Godly Character in Our Kids”

“Developing the Character Quality of Kindness in Your Kids” 

“5 Ways to Develop Honesty in Your Children”

“5 Ways to Develop Respect in Your Children” 

“Purity: Restoring a Lost Virtue”

“12 Ideas for Raising Responsible Children” 

 

  1. Teach your children manners and good citizenship:

As homeschoolers, we frequently get asked, “What about socialization?”  Socialization is defined as the process of learning to behave in a way that is acceptable to society. Why do people think that putting children all together in a classroom is a good way to socialize them?  Why would we want a bunch of our children’s peers to be the ones to teach our children what is socially acceptable in society?  That’s our job as parents!  I think homeschooling is one of the best places to socialize our children. We can teach them good manners: “please”, “thank you”, etc.  We can teach them to be respectful of others. We can also teach them to be godly citizens, by praying for our leaders, and being active in helping to improve our society by volunteering.

 

  1. Model and teach thankfulness vs complaining:

 

We live in a society with a strong “entitlement” attitude, where children feel entitled to have many things because their friends have them.  Things that we wouldn’t even have considered an option when we were growing up.  Cell phones, Instagram, Facebook, cars, tv’s in their bedrooms, etc. Our society wants us to focus on getting “more and more”, but we usually don’t really NEED what they tell us we need! This is a subtle sin area in American society, the desire to “keep up with the Jones” and have more things.  Materialism is such a distraction from our relationship with God. I want to encourage you to guard against buying or giving your children everything they want.  We can help our children see the negative aspects of having some of these things, and help them to learn to be grateful for what God has given them.   If we help our children learn to be thankful for what they have, rather than allowing them to complain and demand what they want, it will help them to overcome this incredible pressure for materialism.  Plus, we’ll enjoy them much more and so will others!

 

  1. Model a love for learning:

This isn’t so much about helping your children develop godly character as it is helping them to enjoy learning throughout their life.  We can be a huge influence in their lives in this area as homeschoolers! If we’re curious about the world around us and always asking questions and striving to learn, our children will also pick up on that attitude, and they’ll be lifelong learners too! We can help our children love to learn by answering their questions (even when they are silly!) and helping them learn by discovery. Children will retain much more of what they learn by discovery than what they learn by reading a textbook. Encourage your children to ask questions and help them find the answers. Be a great role model for them by asking questions yourself!

 

Being a godly role model is a big job! But as Christians, we don’t do this in our own strength, we have a great God who is there to help us! He can help us overcome our areas of weakness and He can also help us to be godly role models for our children. I encourage you to seek His help daily!

Do you have any suggestions or things you’ve done to help you to be a godly role model for your children that you can recommend to others?  Please make a comment and share them here!

 

 

5 Ways to Develop Respect in Your Children

“Respect means honoring other people and treating them with care and courtesy. While respect includes good manners, the core of the behavior goes deeper than politeness. It stems from the belief that other people have as much worth and dignity as you, and that harming others or their property is inherently wrong.”  Belief.net

Unfortunately, children aren’t born with the instinct to be respectful. Children are innately self-centered and selfish. Therefore, as parents, we need to help our children learn to be respectful of others and their needs and wants, and not just think of themselves and their own needs.

We also have an extra struggle because we live in a culture where disrespectful behavior is commonplace and portrayed as acceptable on T.V., online and in movies.

Can I be honest with you? Respect is very important if you are homeschooling. If your child doesn’t respect you as their parent, it’s going to be challenging to effectively homeschool them.

But homeschooling is a great way to get more time with your child so you can work on building respect!

If your child has a problem with being disrespectful towards you and others, I’d recommend that you focus first and foremost on teaching them about the importance of respect and work on building that character quality in them.  This is an ongoing process, and takes time and focused effort, but with God’s help, your child will become more respectful.

Respect is very important to God. In the Scriptures, God calls us to respect our parents, our spouses, and our elders. In fact, in I Peter 2:17, God says we’re to respect EVERYONE!

“Show proper respect to everyone…” I Peter 2:17

There are also many scriptures about honoring and respecting God Himself!

Five ways to help our children be respectful:

  1. Teach them the importance of being respectful

    1. Use scripture to explain that this is a command from God for us to obey. Here are some verses to use to teach this: (you could choose a couple of these to memorize!)
  • I Peter 2:17 “Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.”
  • Ephesians 5:33: “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”
  • I Peter 3:7 “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect…”
  • Leviticus 19:4 “Each of you must respect your mother and father, and you must observe my Sabbaths. I am the Lord your God.”
  • Leviticus 19:32 “Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord.”
  • Ephesians 6:2: Honor your father and mother”   (honor is a word that means much the same as respect)

 

  1. Use these resources for teaching respect:

 

  1. Model respectful behavior

As we teach our children the importance of respect, we need to give them guidelines and directions on how we expect them to live this out.

Train them to talk respectfully to you and others by being a good role model. If you treat others with respect, your children will imitate your behavior.

You can even role-play situations with them, giving them the opportunity to practice how to be respectful in upcoming situations before they are in them!

It’s essential that your children see respectful behavior modeled – they will do what you do more than they will do what you say!  Children learn respect by imitation and training. We need to be good role models of respect – and that includes showing them respect as we interact with them.

 

  1. Set expectations high and give positive reinforcement when you see your child being respectful!

 

Let them know that you expect them to be respectful to you and others.  Talk about being respectful often and ask them questions to get them thinking about how they can be more respectful.

 

When you see them exhibiting respectful behavior, praise them and encourage them to continue! Maybe you even want to have a weekly “Respect” award that you give to whichever of your children showed the most respect to others each week.

 

  1. Teach kids to disagree respectfully

There’s bound to be times when your child doesn’t agree with you or with someone else.  They need to know how to express their frustration and their opinion without being disrespectful.  In most families with multiple children, disagreements between siblings are a common occurrence.

 

When kids have a disagreement with a sibling, they often react with anger and unkind words or actions. But they can learn to work it out without being disrespectful to one another!

 

Here are two resources you can use to help teach your children how to get along with one another and learn to disagree respectfully:

 

  1. Pray for your children – ask God to help develop a respectful attitude in your children!

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of praying for your children! God is in the business of changing hearts and attitudes and His Holy Spirit can move in even the most stubborn of hearts! Pray for your children to love others as Jesus does and ask God to work in their hearts to bring about the respectful behavior that He wants them to exhibit. And encourage your children to ask for God’s help to be more respectful by praying with them for exactly that!

 

 

 

 

 

5 Ways to Develop Honesty in Your Children

With summer already in full-swing, it’s time to go back to our series on Character-building!

Summer is a great time to focus on helping our children build godly character because many homeschoolers are not as busy also trying to fit in the many academic studies we cover during the school year. (Other than what naturally happens over the summer!)

Last summer, I shared posts on how to build the following character traits in your children:  obediencegratefulness, self-control, kindness, and responsibility.  Check out those posts if you haven’t already seen them! (I’ve linked them to the respective words above.)

Today, let’s talk about some ideas on how to build the character quality of honesty in your children.

Being dishonest is a definite temptation for little ones.   The temptation to fudge a little on the truth, or to tell an outright lie in order to stay out of trouble is so strong!  Dishonesty is such a sly thing. Even as adults we can struggle with it.  We don’t want to look bad, so we tell a half-truth to make ourselves appear to be better than we actually are. Dishonesty is a sin issue that can carry on into adulthood if it’s not dealt with properly in childhood.

My Bible dictionary defines honesty as displaying truthfulness and integrity, being upright, not deceptive but rather sincere. As you well know, the opposite of honesty is dishonesty and lying.

God takes lying seriously.  Part of the 10 commandments found in Leviticus 19:11 says this: “You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another.” Proverbs 12:22 says “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.”  God hates lying so much he mentions it twice in Proverbs 6:16-19: “There are six things that the Lord hates,
seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.”

 

Unfortunately, lying is a big problem in our society, even among Christians! People justify their lies in many different ways, and certain types of dishonesty are even socially acceptable in our society today.   I did some reading on lying to learn more about it. According to a post by “The Hope Line”, there are 8 different types of lies!

There are white lies, which are considered small and less serious because they’re told to keep from hurting someone’s feelings.  There are broken promises, lies of fabrication (spreading rumors), bold-faced lies (“I didn’t take a cookie, Mommy!”), lies of deception to make ourselves look good, lies of exaggeration, plagiarism, and compulsive lying.  I would also add that cheating is a form of lying as well.  Check out the blog post on “The Hope Line” to learn more about each of these types of lies.

God hates ANY type of lie! He hates a lying tongue, and lying lips are an abomination to Him. Lying is a sin and we need to see it as that and help our children to see it as that as well.

How do we help our children to become people of integrity and honesty?

 

  1. The first and most important thing you can do is MODEL HONESTY to your children! Yes, to be totally honest (pun intended 😊), your children are more likely to be honest people if they see their parents modeling honesty in their lives. This is convicting, isn’t it?  Because our society has allowed lying to become such an acceptable thing, we can fall into it very easily.  This is an area of sin that I think we all have been guilty of.  I’ve been convicted even as I’ve been writing this blog post! Ask the Lord to help you recognize when you are not being honest, and confess to Him and to your children when you fail in this area.  Make things right if you’ve lied, and apologize to your children too if they have observed you lying or fudging the truth.
  2. Be proactive and teach your children the importance of being honest: There are many great ways to be proactive regarding teaching honesty.
  • Do a Bible study on honesty with your children:
    • Kids of Integrity by Focus on the Family is a great resource for studies on character qualities – they have a good study for young children on honesty.
    •  Over the Moon by Pam Dana has a wonderful object lesson to teach about honesty.
    •  Confessions of a Homeschooler has a great study on honesty you can download for free:
    • Read scripture related to honesty and discuss with your children. Memorize them together.  (Leviticus 19:11, Proverbs 12:22, Proverbs 6:16-19, Proverbs 26:28, Ephesians 4:15)
    • Read the story of Joseph in the Bible and discuss how his brothers were dishonest and what happened to them. Also, make a point of talking about how Joseph was honest and how God blessed him. (Genesis 37, 39-42)
    • Also, for teens: There is a youth group study on honesty that could be adapted to a homeschool environment.

 

 

  1. Encourage honesty in your home:
    • Talk about how important it is for people to trust us, and remind them of this truth:

  • Look for examples around you (on T.V., with others, etc.) where you can show how honesty was a good thing, or where dishonesty caused problems. Without gossiping or slandering someone, talk about those instances and what the person did well, or what they could have done differently for a better outcome.
  • When you see one of your children exhibit honesty in a situation, praise them! Point it out and make a big deal about how proud you are of them for being honest.

 

 

  1. Use teachable moments:

When we catch our children in a lie, we have a great opportunity to help them build character in this area of honesty.  This is one of those character qualities where we really want to capitalize on the teachable moments when we catch our children in a lie, even a little white lie.

If you know your child has lied to you, take them aside and lovingly confront them with the sin of lying. Share the scriptures I listed above with them.  If they don’t readily confess, pray with them and continue to pray for them asking God to help them admit their sin.

Consequences are important for breaking a sin habit, if you want to help your child become a trustworthy and honest individual, they need to learn that any type of lying is NOT acceptable.  So set consequences ahead of time for when your child sins by lying and be sure to follow through.

 

One memorable teachable moment we had when our children were elementary school age was when one of our boys was dishonest with his math. He liked to know right away after he did a problem if he got the answer right, so I allowed him to check the answer key at times to see if he was right.  One day I was correcting his math and I found he had written, “Answers may vary” for one of his answers.    Hmmm…. Very suspicious, wouldn’t you say?

We definitely used that teachable moment to talk about the seriousness of cheating and how that really steals our opportunity to learn. Plus, it makes us untrustworthy, and that is not something we want to be. I don’t remember the consequences completely, but I do know he had to earn our trust back before he could use the answer key to check his answers again!  (he did give me permission to put this story in by the way) 🙂

 

  1. Pray for yourself and your children that God will make you aware when you sin by being dishonest and that His Holy Spirit will help you and your children to be people of integrity, honest and trustworthy.

Sign up to receive to receive more of “The Homeschool Lifestyle” blog posts from me this summer on how to build godly character in your children…

 

 

 

 

 

7 Tips for Homeschooling Your Preschooler

I love to meet and talk to parents who are just beginning to homeschool their preschooler! They’re so excited and eager to learn more about homeschooling.

Unfortunately, I find that parents who are just starting to homeschool preschoolers are making the same mistakes I did!

They think they need to buy expensive curriculum, and spend hours of time working with their preschooler so they get a good start to their child’s education.

And I get it! I wanted to do the same thing! When we started homeschooling, we bought a well-laid out preschool program from a reputable curriculum provider, and did our best to have our son complete all the work. But I learned quickly that our 4-year old didn’t like filling in workbooks and sitting for very long! He quickly started to “dislike” school. Not a good start to our homeschooling career.

Thankfully, I became sick with mono that school year (I know it’s crazy to be thankful for being sick, but I learned a lot through it!).   It was too hard for me to sit and work with the kids (1st grader and preschooler) for very long.

I didn’t know what I should do!

A more seasoned homeschool mom told me to just read to the kids, to lay in bed and rest and read to them. Or get books on tape if my voice couldn’t hold out, and just enjoy listening together.

So, that’s what we did. School suddenly became so much more fun!  As we read Bible stories in their picture Bible, and other great children’s books, the questions would come and there were some wonderful learning opportunities that the Lord brought!

I realized that I didn’t need to have an expensive curriculum with lots of workbooks to teach preschool or even 1st grade.  Reading aloud to them from great books was a wonderful way to teach.  And as I began to feel better, I started also doing more activities and field trips instead of sitting and working through workbooks.  It was a much more enjoyable way to learn! The kids were happier and so was I!  We did a little bit of that curriculum we had purchased, just as a guide for what to teach them, but believe me, the next year, I didn’t buy it again.

And as I began to feel better, I started also doing more activities and field trips instead of sitting and working through workbooks.  It was a much more enjoyable way to learn! The kids were happier and so was I!  We did a little bit more of that curriculum we had purchased. I used it mostly as a guide for what to teach them, but believe me, the next year, I didn’t buy it again.

What do preschoolers really need to learn?

  1. Teach them about Jesus and help them learn to love Him

 

This is a great time to build the foundations of faith in the Lord! Read them the wonderful stories of the Bible using a picture Bible like “The Beginner’s Bible”, and play children’s worship music (or any worship music for that matter!) throughout the day.  Teach them to pray when they have frustrations that they’re working through. Live out your faith and your children will grow to know Jesus as you do.

 

  1. Teach them life skills and manners

Encourage independence in as many areas as possible.  Train them to be as self-sufficient as they are able to be. Help them learn to put on and take off their own clothing, coat and shoes if they don’t already know how to do that.

Teach them to put away their toys and other things they use during the day in the appropriate places.

Teach them personal hygiene skills, washing their hands and face, combing their hair and brushing their teeth.

Help them learn to make their own bed, and put their dirty clothes in the clothes basket.

Have a water cup in the fridge for them that they can help themselves to when they are thirsty.

Teach them how to interact with others, to have good manners.

How should they respond when someone says “hello” to them?

Role play situations that might come up so they get practice as to what to say and do in new situations.  Some kids are very shy, and will need your help to overcome their fear of talking with someone new that you might be meeting with.

Preschoolers are naturally self-centered, so we need to teach them how they’re affecting others.

Train them to be quiet when they need to be, out of respect for others. Or to use their “quiet voice” when appropriate.

Be proactive and talk about expectations BEFORE you get to a new situation, so they know how to behave, and then model the behavior you want them to exhibit.

Teach them to speak politely and respectfully, saying “please”, “thank you” and “excuse me” to others will serve them well all their life.

Here are some good books to teach manners:

“The Berenstein Bears Forget Their Manners” 

“Inventor of Living Skills Books for Kids” by Joy Berry – this is a series of books on helping kids learn manners through stories.

“A Little Book of Manners for Boys” by Bob and Emilie Barnes

“A Little Book of Manners: Courtesy and Kindness for Young Ladies” by Emilie Barnes

  1. Work on building character and obedience

These are foundational years of training for your children, and if you can help them to understand first-time obedience and being respectful to you and to others at this age, you are setting the stage for success in life. Use scripture to help your children learn the character qualities that God wants to see in them.  Check out my blog posts on building godly character for ideas on how to do this.

If you feel like your child is ruling the roost, so to speak, rather than being obedient, then this is the time to get a handle on that! Take a good parenting course to help you learn to discipline your child more effectively.  Check out Connected Families for their online courses or book (they also have some great blog posts). If your child tends to be rebellious and defiant, you need to get that under control before you get into the more challenging homeschooling years.

  1. Focus on gross and fine motor skills

There are many gross motor skills that you can work on in the preschool years.  Peddling a tricycle, catching and throwing a ball, kicking a ball, hopping on one foot, climbing onto furniture without help, walking on tiptoes, etc. Check out the Kid Sense website for a thorough list of gross motor skills to work on in these years:

Some fine motor skills to work on are: cutting with scissors, tracing shapes or letters, writing their name, copying numbers and letters, coloring inside the lines, threading beads onto a string, and holding a pencil. Kid Sense has a more complete list for this as well.

  1. Begin teaching them the letters and numbers

You don’t need to get an expensive curriculum to teach a preschooler their numbers and letters. One of my favorite resources for teaching our children their letters was “Alphabet Activities” by Jill M. Coudron. This is a unit study approach to teaching the alphabet in which you focus on one letter a week and do various activities to reinforce that letter throughout the week. You’ll find art, reading and writing readiness, math, and science activities as well as movement and games and fun foods to eat with each letter.

Use games and activities to teach them the sounds of the letters and the meaning of each of the numbers.  Check out Learning Resources for games that will work for this. Either buy or make your own game using index cards cut in half, with similar things written on each half (Capital A and lower case a, etc., or the written number and then a picture of the same number of items, like balls). Then you can play a matching game or “Go Fish” with the sets of cards. Pinterest has some wonderful ideas for this as well.

Keep any teaching times short, like 10 minutes at the most, because their attention span is short at this age.  Remember that hands-on learning works best at this age as well.

Even if your child is excelling and beginning to read early, be careful not to push them too fast and too hard, or they may end up disliking school later on. Keep teaching times short!

  1. Read good literature to them

Take time to read to your child every day! It builds literacy skills and they love it! It develops a love for reading that will serve them well all their life.

Check out my blog post on reading aloud to your children.

You can use the “Five in A Row” literature based preschool program if you want to use a curriculum. This program is based on one book a week that you read each day, and then you do activities related to what you learned about in the book each day as well.

 

  1. Let them learn through real life!

God will provide many learning opportunities throughout your day! Take your children on nature walks and see what interests them. Get books from the library about their interests and help them learn more about it. We took out many a book on lizards and airplanes and dogs over the years!  Find fun field trips that are good for preschoolers and see what learning opportunities arise through them.

 

I hope this has encouraged you not to stress about teaching your preschooler! They will learn all they need to know in time.  Our society pushes us to have our children reading so early these days, and most children just aren’t ready that early! So take your time, relax and enjoy your preschooler. Check out the book “Better Late than Early” by Raymond and Dorothy Moore to learn more about not pushing our little ones to learn too soon.

I’d love to hear your ideas on what’s worked for homeschooling your preschooler – please comment below and share with us!

4 Homeschool Pitfalls to Avoid

As we began homeschooling, I remember thinking that I needed to do things right! I wanted our kids to have the best education possible.

I bought little metal desks for the two oldest kids (ages 6 & 4) to do their school work in.  I bought all the workbooks and the teacher’s guides and we sat and worked through them together each day.  As we worked, our two toddlers were often busy getting into things.  I struggled to keep up with it all!

It didn’t take long for me to feel overwhelmed and frustrated.   In fact, by October of that first year of homeschooling, I became sick with mono.

Thankfully, a friend came along side me and gave good advice: homeschooling is more of a lifestyle, not just an educational method.  She assured me that I could rest while I was sick, and take time off school while I needed to heal.  “Have the kids lay in bed with you and read fun children’s books to them.” She said.

And that’s what I did.  It was a great bonding time! Plus, I learned later that reading aloud to your children helps build literacy skills.  We continued having read aloud time throughout all the years of our homeschooling!

That year I learned that it didn’t work well to try to imitate the public school (and my kids didn’t enjoy it either)!

I’d like to help others avoid some of the mistakes that I made that first year (and in subsequent years)…

I’m going to share with you how to avoid the 4 most common homeschooling pitfalls (and some apply to general parenting too):

  1. Don’t try to imitate the public school:

Homeschooling truly is more of a lifestyle of learning.  You don’t need little metal desks! Sit at the kitchen table, or on the couch, or even on the floor while you teach and learn!  And you don’t need to have your children sitting for 6-8 hours working on school work.  (that’s a good way to cause burnout!)

 

Young children need short teaching times, give them stretch breaks every 10-15 minutes.  They need the breaks to get their brains to focus again.  Also, they learn best by playing games, doing activities, and singing songs, not by using workbooks.  A workbook here and there is okay, and some children do enjoy filling in the little blanks, but you can teach most of what a Pre-K or Kindergartener needs to know without workbooks.

 

Homeschooling doesn’t take as much time because we’re not trying to corral 30 six-year old children all day, we just have our own children.  We can complete all the school work for kindergarten in a ½ hour.  In the elementary years, you can finish most focused academic work in just an hour or two.  Middle school and high school might require a little more time, but it usually won’t take all day. And remember to take breaks to re-focus!

 

The rest of their education takes place through daily life.  There are so many opportunities in a day to teach important skills and values, to work on character and help our children understand the world that God created!

 

Have them help with chores around the house, and teach them how to cook, clean and maintain a home.

 

Take them with you to the grocery store and teach them how to look at ingredients and choose the best foods, or how to watch for sales, and save money.

 

Teach them their colors and about matching while you sort socks. By age 10 they can even be doing their own laundry! (What a relief that was for me! With four kids, my laundry piles were insurmountable at times!)

 

When they ask “why?” or “how does this work?”, take the time to explain things to them, or help them find the answers. Teaching them to find the answers empowers them to be lifelong learners!

 

Read living books to them, and then help them explore topics within the books that interest them.  For example, as we read the book, “My Side of the Mountain”, our boys were interested in knowing more about falcons, so we went to the library and got books on falcons.  It was a great learning experience! (see my post on great books for kids for some book suggestions)    

 

I hope you get the idea…watch for learning opportunities and take advantage of them.  Using curriculum is helpful, and you will probably need some, but you don’t have to imitate the public school.

 

As you make learning part of your lifestyle, your children will become avid learners, looking for opportunities to learn about things that interest them.

 

  1. Don’t compare yourself to others:

 

We all do this! So-and-so tells us how wonderful their child is doing in a certain activity, and we wonder if we should get our child in that activity too.  Or another mom talks about how perfect the curriculum they’re using is, and we think we should consider switching to that curriculum too.

 

Or we observe one family’s children and decide we’re a failure because our children aren’t as well behaved as theirs.

 

Comparing ourselves to others usually leads to one of two things:

 

  • Discouragement: because we feel like we don’t measure up or we’re failing in some area.
  • Pride: because we think we’re doing a better job than the other person, and we get a little puffed up! We forget that it’s only by the grace of God that we are where we are!

 

Guard against comparing yourself or your children to others!

Instead, seek God for what you need to do in your family, and in your homeschool, and trust Him to give you the direction you need.

 

Let Him be your guide, rather than being swayed this way and that by what others are doing.

 

  1. Guard against being overcommitted:

Our society today places a lot of value on excelling in sports or the arts or academics.  There’s great pressure on parents to have their children in preschool, or community sports, or music lessons, or outside classes.  While these things are good, we can overload our children’s calendar and stress them out!

When they’re stressed out, they often have attitude problems, or they don’t do as well in their school work.  Instead of overloading our children with activities and classes, look for things that will help build character and help them grow in their faith.  Allow each child to be in only one activity outside the home at any given time, and then gradually add on more, if you feel you can handle it.

And we as parents can also become overcommitted.  People think that because we’re home with our children, we have extra time and so they ask us to help. Maybe it’s a volunteer position at church, or in co-op, or there’s a family in need.  While these things are also good to be involved in, we can become overcommitted with outside responsibilities, and our children and homeschooling suffer.  If this sounds like you, (this was me!), then you need to learn to say “no” sometimes!

 

  1. Avoid getting so wrapped up in the academic side of things that you forget about building character and focusing on spiritual growth:

The pressure to have our children up to grade level and doing as well as we perceive the public school children are doing (or as well as the grandparents think our children should be doing!) can be overwhelming at times. And we put a lot of pressure on ourselves regarding this as well.

It is important, but…

We can get so focused on the academic piece of homeschooling that we forget that one of the best parts of homeschooling is that we get the privilege of incorporating character building opportunities into their lives as well.  And that we’re also training up our children to love and know the Lord with all their heart, soul and mind.

Most homeschoolers know this and have this as their focus, but there can be times when we can get so wrapped up in teaching academics and doing outside activities, that we miss opportunities to teach spiritual truths or to work on a character issue.

Ask the Lord to help you keep spiritual growth and character building as a high priority in your day, ask Him to show you the opportunities so you don’t miss them.

 

If you’re struggling with one or more of these pitfalls and you need prayer or advice on how to remedy things, please send me a message. Or if you can think of other mistakes that you’ve made that you’d like to help spare others from making, please share them here.  We can help each other to stay on the right path as we share our lessons learned and pray for one another.

Blessings to you,

Kris

 

 

 

 

 

 

Understand Your Child’s Love Language

Photo credit: Dreamstime
Photo credit: Dreamstime

Children have a great need to feel unconditionally loved.  God created us to need love, and He sent His Son to die for our sins to show us His unconditional love. Jesus said we’re to follow His example of loving others in John 13: 34-35:

 

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

 

As parents, we need to show our children unconditional love, in part because the way we love our children and spouse will show others that we’re Christ followers.    But, also because our children need to know they are loved! Their emotional maturity depends on it.

 

5 Love Languages:

Many years ago, author Gary Chapman wrote the book “The 5 Love Languages” and it quickly became a best seller.  The concept of people having preferred ways they want to be shown love has continued to be popular ever since.  In fact, many marriages have been saved because couples applied the principles of this book and began to love one another the way they yearned to be loved.

 

He has since written books on the 5 love languages of children and of teens.  These concepts can be applied to almost any close relationship that you have!

 

I believe that if you understand your children’s preferred love languages, and you show them love in the way they prefer to be loved, you’re more likely to have better attitudes during your school days!

 

But just in case you haven’t heard of the five love languages, let me summarize the concepts here for you before we go into how they can help your school days:

 

In his book, Gary states that there are basically five emotional love languages, or ways that people express love to one another and receive love from others.  People tend to prefer to show and receive love primarily in one or two of these ways.  They will feel more loved if you show them love in their preferred love language.

 

The five love languages and how they relate to children are as follows:

 

  1. Words of Affirmation- a child who prefers this love language feels loved when you speak words of affection and endearment, praise and encouragement.  Words are powerful for these children.  This isn’t just praising what they do, but even more so, genuinely speaking about the good things you see in them a as a person.  Leaving little notes of encouragement for these children will go a long way. On the flip side, words of criticism can be very painful for children who have this as their primary love language.

 

  1. Quality Time – a child who prefers this love language feels loved when you give them your undivided attention.   Most children want their parent’s undivided attention on a regular basis, but this child will want it more than the average child. They just love being together.  Loving eye contact while you’re together means a lot as well as quality conversations about what’s important to them.

 

  1. Receiving Gifts- a child who prefers this love language finds the giving and receiving of gifts to be a powerful expression of love.  The gifts are a symbol of your love for them.  But the gifts don’t have to be big and expensive.  Even a small token of love shows that you were thinking of them when you made it or found it. Most children like to receive gifts, but these children will tend to make a big deal out of giving and receiving gifts.

 

  1. Acts of Service- a child who prefers this love language feels loved when others think of their needs or wants and strive to meet them. As parents, we’re often serving our children, it’s what we do, especially when they’re young.  However, as they get older, in our quest to help them become independent, we need to be careful that we don’t miss opportunities to serve them to show them love, especially if this is their primary love language.

 

  1. Physical touch – a child who prefers this love language feels loved when you hug and kiss them, or give any appropriate physical contact. Snuggling on the couch reading a good book, a simple touch on the shoulder when they’re working on their school work, holding hands, etc. Even a dad wrestling with his son can fall under this love language and will make him feel more loved if this is his love language.

 

I would encourage you to read the book to learn more:

 

“The 5 Love Languages of Children: The Secret to Loving Children Effectively” by Gary Chapman

There you’ll find a lot of specific suggestions on how to love your children in each of these love languages.

 

When we love people in the way they prefer to be loved, Chapman says that we fill their love tank and they feel completely loved.  This in turn affects their behavior towards us.

 

“People behave differently when their emotional love tank is full”

Gary Chapman from “What Are the 5 Love Languages: The Official Book Summary”

 

Children need to learn how to love the important people in their life in all the different love languages, and we should show them love in all the different love languages.  But they also feel more secure if you make a point to show them love in the love language that they prefer.

 

How can you determine your child’s love language?

 

  1. Realize it takes time!

Show them love with all the five love languages, especially when they’re little, but even when they’re teenagers, they need to experience love in all these ways. Teach them to show love in all the five love languages. Then:

 

  1. Watch their behavior and see how they try to show you love.

 

Do they frequently tell you how much they love you?

 

Do they often do something kind to help you and to show you love?

 

Do they want to be close to you, hugging and touching you a lot?

 

Do they often want to have you spend time listening to them, doing things with them?

 

Or do they tend to give you gifts throughout the week, a dandelion, or a picture they colored, etc.?

 

  1. Focus on showing them love in the way they show you love, and see how they respond. Do they seem more content and happy, more secure in your love?  You’ve probably hit on their preferred love language.

 

How can loving your child in their love language help your school day go better?

 

Chapman states the following in his book “The 5 Love Languages of Children: the Secret of Loving Children Effectively” :

 

“The most important fact to know about a child’s learning ability is this: For a child to be able to learn well at any age, he must be at the emotional maturational level of that particular age. As the child grows, his ability to learn increases because of several factors, the most important of which is his emotional maturity.  And parents have the greatest effect on the child’s emotional growth.”

 

A child’s emotional development has a great impact on their ability to learn!

 

A child who is doing well emotionally can concentrate better, has more motivation and will typically do better with their school work.

 

If a child feels unloved, they will have little motivation to tackle the challenges of learning.

 

How can you avoid having your child feel unloved?

 

Love them with all five of the different love languages, and watch to see which ones they seem to respond to most.  When you discover what your child’s preferred love language is, lavish the love on using that language!

 

You’ll find that your child will respond with a desire to please you and will be more cooperative with their school work! 

 

When their love tank is full, they will be more content! And a content child will do their school work more diligently and more willingly. Their focus and concentration will improve. It’s a win-win situation.  And it’s not that hard to do.

 

Of course, loving your child using their preferred love language isn’t like a magic ticket to good behavior.

 

Discipline is also very important in raising emotionally mature individuals.  Discipline comes from the Greek work “to train” and involves training our children to become mature adults who function well in society.

 

One of the most important aspects of teaching our children at home is discipline.  If our children won’t obey us, or accept our training, it’s very challenging to teach them academically! They need to respect us enough to do what we tell them to; to respect us as their teacher as well as their parent.

 

I want to be clear, discipline doesn’t just mean punishment when they do wrong, it also means keeping their emotional love tank filled and using positive encouragement as you train them to be respectful and well behaved.

 

Children are typically self-focused and are instinctively trying to be sure that they are loved.  If they feel unloved, or their love tank is low, they’ll start testing us to see if we love them.

 

How we respond is key.

 

If they still feel unloved by our response, they’ll continue to test our love by their behavior.   That’s where unconditional love comes in, we need to love them unconditionally, no matter how they behave. I’m not saying we allow bad behavior, but in our response and even in our discipline, we need to be sure that they know that we love them.  If we can use the love language that they prefer, then it will be even more meaningful for them and their love tank will be refilled.

 

When a child misbehaves, ask yourself: “Is my child’s love tank filled?” If not, “What can I do to fill their love tank as I deal with this misbehavior?”

 

 

I encourage you to the time to learn what your child’s love language is and strive to show them love the way they crave to be loved!

 

If you’ve learned some ways to show love to your children in one or more of these love languages, please share in the comment section so others can glean from what you’ve learned! I love to hear from you!!

 

Photo credit: Dreamstime
Photo credit: Dreamstime

8 Ideas for Keeping Toddlers Busy While Homeschooling

Keeping Toddlers Busy
Keeping Toddlers Busy

Homeschooling several children of multiple ages can be challenging in itself, but homeschooling while you have a toddler running around can often seem overwhelming!

When we first started homeschooling, our kids were ages 7, 5, 3, and 1; life was busy, to say the least!

Looking back, I think that the two littlest ones were not always given the attention they should have received during the school day that first year. I was so focused on teaching the older two all they needed to know!  Our two toddlers got into mischief more than I would have liked during homeschool hours, probably because they were trying to get more of my attention.   Maybe you can relate to this?

As we continued to homeschool, I learned some important lessons about how to make things go more smoothly with toddlers in tow.  I know there are many of you out there who have toddlers and are trying to figure out how to juggle homeschooling older kids while still keeping an eye on the littler ones.  So I’m hoping these suggestions will help your day go more smoothly as well!

  1. Give your toddlers special attention as you start your day:

Fill their little “love tank” full with as much undivided attention as you can give first thing in the morning. If they love to be read to, spend time reading to them; if they like to play games, spend time playing a game with them.  Let them know they’re important by spending 10-15 minutes of time focused on them.   It’s okay to start schooling the older ones later if needed.  Your toddler needs to know they’re important too, even though they aren’t “doing school” yet.

 

  1. Let your toddler participate in as much of your school activities as possible. If you’re reading out loud to the older children, let your toddler play and listen too. Yes, I know they may be a bit of a distraction, but you can train them to be quiet and listen (somewhat!) while they’re playing nearby.  It’s unrealistic to expect them to sit completely still while you read to the other children from a history book, but they will likely be listening as they play and you never know how much they’ll retain from what they hear!

 

  1. Set up “activity boxes” filled with items to be used only during school time.  These can be used when you need focused time to work with the older kids on their school work.  You can buy inexpensive shoebox size bins and have them labeled for each day and fill them with fun things your toddler can play with independently. Provide a mixture of several different things to do in each bin because a toddler’s attention span is short!  These bins can contain items that help them to work on their fine motor and gross motor skills.   A few ideas for what to put in the bins:

 

  1. playdoh with cookie cutters (you’ll need to get them set up for this one)
  2. magnets with a magnetic board
  3. stickers and paper
  4. durable children’s books
  5. blocks for stacking
  6. thick string and big beads to thread on the string
  7. a bucket of beans and scoops, as well as an empty egg carton to put beans in
  8. Legos
  9. Some of their favorite toys (cars, dolls, etc.)
  10. Ping-pong balls and a small bucket to throw them into
  11. Coloring books and crayons
  12. Simple puzzles
  13. Go to pinterest for more ideas: https://www.pinterest.com/krismcox/ideas-for-toddlers/

 

  1. Assign your older children specific times of the day to play with your toddler – when you really need some focused time to work one-on-one with one of your older children on a subject, ask another one of your children to be in charge of entertaining your toddler. This develops responsibility and patience in the child doing the caregiving, and is great for bonding between siblings (this is assuming you have more than one older child in your home)!

 

  1. Have pre-made snacks readily available: Toddlers often have meltdowns when they get hungry, so have some healthy snacks in baggies or Tupperware containers that you can quickly put out for your toddler when they get hungry.  Having a cup of water ready and accessible for them to grab when they get thirsty will also help.

 

  1. Plan to take frequent breaks: Expect interruptions! Your toddler will need you to take some time with him/her throughout your school time. You can avoid most unexpected interruptions by planning breaks in your schooling every 15-20 minutes to give your toddler the attention he needs.  If a toddler feels like he’s being ignored for long periods of time, he’s more likely to get into mischief!   It’s also good for all your children to have physical activity breaks throughout the day. Activity breaks are good for your older children to regain focus, and you can have the toddler participate in physical exercises as much as they’re able along with the older children.  These “brain breaks” are a great way to help kids regain focus in their school day and toddlers can enjoy them too! Check out Heather Haupt’s “Brain Breaks” for ideas of what to do for physical activity. If you don’t want everyone to take a break you can plan breaks for just one of your older children to play with your toddler too.

 

  1. Busy board: I wish I’d have thought of this when I had toddlers! I found this idea on pinterest and was so impressed with it, I wanted to share it.  A busy board is just a board with all kinds of real life items that kids love to play with glued to it.  Things like a small calculator, key chains,  simple door locks,  door jams, magnetic letters, buttons to push, etc. busy-board

8. Make use of naptime! Of course, you’ll get some of the best quiet time to work with older students when your toddler is down for a nap.  Use nap time to work on subjects that require a lot of concentration and quiet focused time.

 

My biggest hope in writing this post is to help moms of toddlers realize what I learned the hard way:

Your toddler’s need for time and attention is equally as important as teaching your older children their three R’s.

I want to encourage you to NOT look at them as an inconvenience or a distraction from your homeschool teaching, rather recognize that they are at an important stage in development, and they need your time too.  You’ve already begun homeschooling them as well, just not in reading and math!

Having the right perspective will make all the difference on how you respond when your toddler has a meltdown right in the middle of your history lesson with the older children. Your children are watching how you react when things don’t go as planned, and with God’s help, you can respond in love to your little one.

Please share ideas that have worked for you in keeping toddlers busy during your homeschool day in the comment section! Your idea might help someone else!

Keeping Toddlers Busy
Keeping Toddlers Busy

Homeschool Teaching Tips

Mum-and-Kids-Reading

There are so many tips for homeschooling, really too many to share in one post!  I’ll share some of the more important ones here, plus tips for teaching children in the younger years.  Stay tuned for another post on teaching tips for older students soon!

TEACHING TIPS:

#1- Foster a love for learning:

One of the best ways to foster a love for learning in your child is to stimulate their curiosity and help them discover new information on their own as much as possible, rather than spoon feeding it to them.  Sometimes we need to read or teach them information, but other times we can get them to discover it on their own by asking questions such as “Why? “  or “What if…?” or “How did this happen?”.   And then give them time to think it through instead of answering it yourself.  Or have them hunt for information (teach them how to do this) rather than just telling them the information yourself. Stimulate your child’s curiosity by exposing them to a variety of learning opportunities and help them learn by discovery as much as possible.

#2- Be organized by setting up learning stations:art station

Setting up prepared learning stations around your home is another great way to encourage learning.  Learning stations have all the necessary tools and information needed to learn about something new in the various subjects.  So a math station would include math games, flash cards, math manipulatives, and various tools to learn math concepts.  An art station would have all the supplies needed to make a beautiful creation.  Reading stations have lots of great literature that they can sit down and read when they feel in the mood.  A music station would have some musical instruments and /or a CD player with CD’s of various composers that they can listen to. You get the idea.  When you have little ones around, you might not be able to keep all the resources for each station out and within easy reach (such as paints, markers, etc.) but you can have them all stored together, so it’s easy to take out a bin and hand it to an older child when they express interest in working on something such as an art project.

#3- Family-centered learning:

Teach all children together for any subjects that you can!  Math and Language arts have a specific scope and sequence, so the order you can teach the concepts depends on where the student is at academically.  The other subjects such as Bible, Science, History, Geography, Art and Physical education are subjects that can be taught to a wide range of ages at the same time.  When teaching the whole family together,  you teach concepts that you want them to learn (maybe by reading a historical fiction book for history and then talking through what happened in that historical time period) and then you can do a project together such as building a teepee if studying the Indians.  Then you can give more age appropriate assignments to each child for them to do independently related to what was learned(such as a book report for a child in upper elementary, or a research paper for an older student, etc.)  Unit Studies, Classical curriculum and Charlotte Mason’s approach are all good choices for curriculum if you want to teach multiple ages together.

#4- Cover several skills and subjects at the same time if you can:

You can cover a lot more in a shorter time if you can find ways to combine subjects into one project or teaching time.  For example, if you’re requiring your child to write an essay, then have them write it on something you’re studying in history.  Or if your child is memorizing a verse from the Bible, have them use that verse for their handwriting as well.  You can use copy work (copying a piece of literature or scripture) to practice handwriting and grammar at the same time.  You can even combine math and physical education by having your young child work on catching a ball while counting, or jump on the trampoline while doing math facts.

#5- Remember your child’s age and abilities

We need to be aware of what our children are capable of at the various ages and adjust how we teach accordingly.

*Babies and Toddlers still need our time and attention and it’s hard to find times to teach older children when little ones are present and needy.

  • enlist older siblings to help with the littler ones as much as possible.
  • give toddlers some special “mommy  time” first thing each day, so their little love tank is full. Then they are more likely to play quietly beside you when you’re teaching older kids later.
  • have special toy bins for the little ones that only come out when you’re teaching school, maybe even a special bin for each day, so the toys are different each day.
  • It also helps to have snacks and a sippy cup of water available within your toddlers reach so they can help themselves if needed.
  • your little one’s nap time is a perfect time to try to get some quality teaching time in with older kids as well.
  • Bead stringing and lacing cards are great activities for preparing a child to hold and use a pencil (it uses a similar hand position to thread the beads and cards).

*Preschoolers:

  •  need short teaching times, like 5-10 minute segments of time, and then a break or activity where they can move around.
  • 20-30 minutes of structured school time per day is usually enough for this age.
  • Much of their learning can be from games, puzzles and activities.
  • work on readiness skills such as tying shoes, learning what each of the numbers mean (make abstract concepts concrete with manipulatives) and learning the letters and their sounds.
  •  Reading readiness activities would include reading out loud to them and letting them narrate (tell you back ) what they heard.
  • The skills needed at this age are so simple, you can easily teach concepts in these years with games and manipulatives.
  • Teach a letter a week plus the sounds it makes.  You can add to this reading stories and doing projects based off of the letter of the week to reinforce what they’re learning and this is a great way for a preschooler to learn and remember their letters. (The letter A: read about ants, alligators, apples, make apple pie, make paper airplanes – just google search what starts with the letter____ and you’ll find a lot of resources out there!)

*Early Elementary Age Children:

  • Work on fine and gross motor skills: help them learn to cut with scissors, catch a ball, skip, jump rope, walk on a line or hop on one foot.  Some kids at this age will have mastered these already, but it’s not unusual if they haven’t so keep working on gross motor skills.
  • This is when they will begin more formal school work and yet much of what they need to learn can be taught through games and play.
  • Having too much structure for long time periods can cause burnout in these years.
  • Give breaks every half hour, and if you have trouble getting your child to come back after a break, use a timer so they know when you expect them back.
  • “Brain Breaks” by Heather Haupt are a great option for breaks as well.
  • Children of this age are like little sponges, soaking up information, so this is a great time to have them memorize important facts and information in a fun manner, by using music, games and rhyme.
  • Help them learn visual discrimination by matching colors and shapes or matching by size, or let them sort the silverware to be of help in the kitchen!
  • Reading out loud to children of this age will help build literacy skills as well as improve their imagination and listening skills.
  • Phonics and Math skills should be the focus in these early years, and you can use games as well as formal curriculum.
  • If your child is a Wiggly Wilma or Willy, they will learn much better with movement and action.
  • The Math Mat from Amazon is a great option for learning math facts for those kids who don’t sit still well.
  • Bob books are a great tool for allowing your child to begin blending letters together and becoming successful in reading.

My next post will include teaching tips for upper elementary, middle school and high school students! Stay posted by signing up to receive my blog posts via e-mail.  If you have some tips you’d like to share, please send them via the comment area… I’m sure you all have ideas that can be added to what I’ve shared!