Category: Homeschooling Support & Encouragement

Learning at Home Tips and Resources + FREE Ultimate Guide!

Learning at Home Tips and Resources + FREE Ultimate Guide!

For the last few weeks, I have been sharing my favorite learning at home resources and tips.  (You can read all of those posts by clicking here or scrolling down for the full list.)

As a former elementary school teacher, I NEVER imagined I’d be a homeschooling mama to my own two girls. But looking back on my years in the classroom, I’ve always been a big believer in individualized education.

When it came time to enroll my sweet five-year-old in Kindergarten, it was clear that she was more than ready academically, but not anywhere close to being prepared emotionally or physically. As I mentioned previously:

Homeschooling for Kindergarten meant we could give our girls more time to mature emotionally and physically while still giving them what they needed academically.

Five years later, we still love homeschooling our girls. But I believe that learning at home happens in ALL families, whenever we read a good book, play a game, go an adventure, write a letter to a family member, etc.

Many parents have come to me and said, “My child is going to preschool x days a week, but we still want to do some learning activities together. What do you recommend?”

And so I have created this FREE guide (scroll down to get yours) to help you get started on your learning at home journey–to create personalized learning plans for YOUR family this year.

Learning at Home Tips & Resources | How does my child learn best? What should my young child be learning? | tot school, preschool at home, homeschooling, learning at home, learning through play


What should my young child be learning?

In another recent post, I shared my thoughts on curriculum for young children:

Curriculum is simply meant to be a jumping off point for teachers (and homeschooling parents). All too often, we become more focused on teaching the next lesson in the book rather than what our child needs to learn next.

So the question becomes, “What does my child need to learn next?”

There are many developmental checklists available for parents, and I also offer a quarterly Age-Appropriate Learning Workshop online. Children rarely develop on a timeline, so my number one piece of advice for parents is to work backwards. What do you want your child to know this time next year? What are the skills he/she needs to develop to get there?


Learning at Home Tips & Resources | How does my child learn best? What should my young child be learning? | tot school, preschool at home, homeschooling, learning at home, learning through play


How does my child learn best?

There are five different modes of learning (often called “learning styles”):

  • visual (graphics)
  • auditory
  • read/write (text)
  • kinesthetic (movement)
  • tactile (touch)

When your child is young, he or she will learn best through hands-on learning. Toddlers and preschoolers love to dance, shake, climb, and move; learning might also happen through song and repetition (hence, the popularity of nursery rhymes!). 

As your child grows and learns to read independently, he/she will begin to demonstrate a preference for one or more of the different learning styles. Note: I believe knowing how your child learns best (and helping him/her to understand what that means) is crucial to success in higher education.

Taking learning styles into account is incredibly important for science and math courses, as I mention in this post about our favorite resources for math education. Good teachers will introduce new concepts in a variety of ways and work with your child in his/her preferred learning style, but it’s also an important consideration for independent practice and homework.

Keep in mind that most people are multi-modal and often show a distinct preference for two or more learning styles at the same time. It’s also important for all of us to strengthen our weaker areas for times when modifications cannot be made. For more information about learning styles, click here.


Learning at Home Tips & Resources | How does my child learn best? What should my young child be learning? | tot school, preschool at home, homeschooling, learning at home, learning through play


Other posts about learning at home that may interest you:


Grab your FREE Ultimate Guide to Learning at Home!

Tot School Must-Haves

Tot School Must-Haves

Five years ago, we decided to do preschool at home with our older daughter. As a former classroom teacher, I may have overdone “the school at home” a bit. (I totally did, and you can read about it here.) For some unknown reason, it seems we–as parents–are in a continual rush to push our children ahead to the next stage.

Did you know the number one search result for both “tot school” and “preschool at home” is all about choosing curriculum? Which program will prepare my child for Kindergarten?

The truth is, NO curriculum or program can give your child exactly what he or she needs to get ready for Kindergarten.

While I am not anti-curriculum, I don’t think it’s necessary for MOST families who choose to do tot school or preschool at home. Curriculum is simply meant to be a jumping off point for teachers (and homeschooling parents). All too often, we become more focused on teaching the next lesson in the book rather than what our child needs to learn next.

"Play is the work of the child." --Maria Montessori | play-based learning, learning through play, developmentally-appropriate practice, preschool curriculum

More important than curriculum–in my opinion–is the learning environment we create for our children.

It starts with curating our toys (and books) for maximum impact. We want to choose items that can be used for open-ended play, in a multitude of ways, throughout the year. What objects can be mixed and matched to teach our child new concepts?

Recommended items for your tot school or preschool at home from an experienced homeschooling mom! | learning through play, homeschool curriculum recommendations, personalized learning

Here are some of our favorite “must-haves” for every family considering tot school or preschool at home:

 (Note: affiliate links included at no cost to you!)

Manipulatives

  • pom poms
  • clothespins
  • colored straws
  • pony beads
  • pipe cleaners

Accessories

  • muffin tin
  • glass jar
  • empty Parmesan cheese container
  • funnel
  • “chip and dip” container
  • trays
  • tongs and other fine motor tools

Extras

Don’t forget

  • regular trips to the library
  • reading aloud
  • lots (and lots!) of time outside

 


Are you an auditory learner? Listen to this post on Anchor.fm!

Listen to The Parent Resource Room on Anchor.FM


We are five years into our homeschooling journey, and I feel like I am a better teacher now than right after college. I see my children’s unique strengths and weaknesses, understand the way they each learn best, and supplement our curriculum with hands-on learning experiences custom-designed to their needs.

The benefit of a personalized learning plan is this:
education becomes a lifestyle rather than a year’s worth of curriculum.

If you would like help creating a personalized learning plan for your child, leave me a comment! I’d love to chat. (And don’t forget to grab your freebie below.)


Grab your FREE Learning at Home Checklist! | child development, family relationships, homeschooling advice, homeschooling for beginners, tot school

Grab your FREE Learning at Home Checklist–10 questions to get you thinking about
tot school, preschool at home, or homeschooling for Kindergarten!

Our Decision to Homeschool: Kindergarten

Our Decision to Homeschool: Kindergarten

We were outside the library a few days ago, waiting for them to open before heading out of town for vacation. Since I knew we were about to spend 5 hours together in the car, we started playing a short game of “catch the stuffie.”

I would toss the bear to Addie (9) and say the name of a state. She would catch the bear, say the capital city, and then toss the bear to her sister. Katie (5) named a state while tossing the bear to me, I said the capital, and so our cycle continued. After a few rounds, the library staff opened the front door, and we got in line behind the other patrons waiting to enter.

“Do you homeschool?” asked the lady in front of me.

“We do,” I replied with a smile.

The fact is, I probably would have come up with some nerdy way to spend our waiting time regardless of where my kids do school. It’s who I am.    

It’s the time of year when families are considering all their educational options, and I am well aware that we represent “homeschooling” to every person we meet.

And so I ask myself:

  • Are my kids presentable?
  • Did I brush their hair?
  • Are they being “sociable” enough?
  • Are they acting too “weird”?

Playing states and capitals while waiting for the library to open probably qualifies as weird, right? Oops, sorry kids!

Is My Child Ready for Kindergarten? 4 Factors to Consider | Kindergarten readiness, parenting, milestones, learning through play, child development, developmentally-appropriate practice

When I graduated from college at the age of 22 with a degree in elementary education, I had no idea I would be a homeschooling mom. I taught 3rd and 4th grades in a public school for two years before moving. I found a teaching job for 1st and 2nd grades at a small private school in my new town. I’ve also taught in preschools, church programs, and “mommy and me” type classes.

I firmly believe there is no perfect school that will meet every child’s needs. For our girls, homeschooling is the right choice at this time. (We reconsider all of our options for each of our kids each year.)


Here’s how we made the decision to homeschool our kids for Kindergarten:

  • Actual Age

  • Academic Readiness

  • Physical Readiness

  • Emotional Readiness


Actual Age:
Both of our girls are YOUNG.

Addie was born in the middle of June, but was actually 14 weeks early. If she had been born on her due date at the end of September, she would have had to wait a year to start school.

Katie was born the first week of September, which put her at the very end of eligibility for Kindergarten. (We live in Iowa, where the cut-off date is 9/15.) She would have either been the very youngest in her class or one of the very oldest in her grade.

Academic Readiness:
Both of our girls are early readers.

When Addie started reading between her 3rd and 4th birthday, I thought it was a fluke. And then her sister started recognizing words when SHE was 3. Even though Kindergarten has become more academic over the years, I knew both girls were more than ready to handle the curriculum at the age of 5.

Physical Readiness:
Both of our girls napped until their 5th birthday.

I knew that our girls would not be ready for a full-day Kindergarten program at our local public school. They each needed extra time to build stamina for 7 hours of instruction and group activities (especially my introverted child).

Emotional Readiness

Ultimately, we knew pretty early on that we had two choices with our girls:

  • either wait a year to put them in public school (when they were a young 6) OR
  • homeschool them for Kinder and see if they “caught up” with their peers.*

We knew it would be easier to retain (hold back) one or both of them–if they ever needed it–then to move them ahead a year if we chose wrong. Do public schools even “skip grades” anymore?

(*Some towns have transitional Kindergarten classes or private, half-day programs that might have worked in a similar situation.)

Homeschooling for Kindergarten meant we could give our girls more time to mature emotionally and physically while still giving them what they needed academically.

And along the way, we discovered that homeschooling is a GREAT fit for our family’s lifestyle and schedule.

Is your child getting ready for Kindergarten? What school options are you considering?


Grab your FREE Learning at Home Checklist! | child development, family relationships, homeschooling advice, homeschooling for beginners, tot school

Grab your FREE Learning at Home Checklist–10 questions to get you thinking about
tot school, preschool at home, or homeschooling for Kindergarten!