So, we're homeschooling this year. This shouldn't come as a surprise to most of you (because you know we've been doing it since September), but I am sometimes still surprised by our decision. Not because I regret it at all, but because I'm a teacher...I guess I just thought I'd send my kids to school!
I'm not going to go in to all the particulars about why we made this decision (I'm following the lead of a great lady I know...here's her blog post about it), but I'd love to share with you a little of what we do. Here's why: life is busy. Too busy at times. I work part time (that teacher gig I mentioned earlier), homeschool our oldest, craft like a madwoman for craft faires, am on several community/church groups, and try to run our household. I'm not saying that to boast or brag, but to confirm what I know to be true--you are just as busy as I am. It may look different, but we are all busy!
There is a connection to homeschooling here, I'm slowly making my way there! In all this busyness, I don't have time, nor want to, fight with my son about getting school work done. This happy-happy, peace-filled dream of mine is not always a reality. Kids don't like to work, and those who do don't live at my house. Korban is great at school, but sometimes it is like pulling teeth to get him going. I get that this probably wouldn't happen if I sent him to school...he is super respectful of other adults and would take cues from the other kids. But, we're a safe place to act out because of our relationship and he hasn't had the social pressure of "act right" from a classroom of peers--so, sometimes he throws a fit when I ask him to write spelling words.
My response? Sometimes I'm gracious and gentle, sometimes I'm direct and no-nonsense. My best response? Being proactive. Since I know he doesn't like to write spelling words, I try to be creative! He's a little boy who wants to move his body. If moving his body engages his mind, even better!
Enter, Hands-on Spelling. (can you hear the cheering and applause?!?)
Here's what we did:
I took an old plastic container (you could use glass or metal) and cut a piece of bright construction paper to fit the bottom. It doesn't have to fit perfectly! I put a little piece of double-sided tape to secure the paper in place.
Next I put just enough flour to cover the red paper. You could also use salt, sugar, or rice, but flour worked well for us. Make sure whatever you use is edible because undoubtedly the drawing finger will end up in the mouth for a taste test (both my boys did it).
You can probably tell from the pictures that my container is not really big. Well, Korban is in kindergarten, so his words aren't really big. He spells 3-5 letter words. If your child is older, then use a bigger container or a cookie sheet that has an edge to it.
I had one container for each kid. Korban did his spelling words and Shay drew shapes I named for him.
It was a tactile way to practice a necessary part of school! And, it worked! No fussing, no pouting, just spelling. The thing I like about this is that even though he wasn't writing with a pencil, he was still practicing proper letter formation. Some of the other "active" spelling games we've been doing don't involve writing at all, which is okay, just not ideal.
Their favourite part? After the work was done, we took out the paper and added water! They got to explore the flour in a new way and it was a lot of fun! There was some actual hand-dirtying involved, although you wouldn't know it from the pictures. (What's with the spoon and the cloth?!? My boys don't like to get their hands dirty!) Another bonus to this activity? It costs very little and requires minimal preparation! We had all the materials on hand and it probably took me 5 minutes to get ready.
I'll be posting some more hands-on learning ideas when school picks up again (we're fully enjoying Spring break right now). Let me know if there are any areas you'd like to see an activity in and I'll do my best to come up with a few for us all to try out!