Well, it is literally a new year, and our students are back to the books. Over my 18 years of teaching homeschool, I have learned some techniques that helped lessons stick. Perhaps you may find them helpful with your own student(s).
Tip One: Memorize by Singing and Repeating
My kids learned the Preamble to the Constitution and all the Presidents by singing songs. The Presidents song is to the tune of “Ten Little Indians”. They learned these in fourth grade and can still sing the songs today. Two sons have graduated from college, and one is in college. Sometimes all five will sing them together. They enjoy impressing people by sharing these songs and by reciting poems. They memorized poetry by repeating sections daily until they had worked through the entire poem. Scripture memorization works the same way. Reviewing always helps cement the facts in every subject.
Tip Two: Use Index Cards
I discovered that having the kids keep index cards of verses and terms that I wanted them to retain not only helped them remember over time, but the cards became a handy reference tool. This year, rather than have loose cards, I bought my youngest the index cards in a spiral. She has one for English grammar and punctuation rules and one for her math terms and formulas. The older kids kept their loose index cards in a recipe box for their Scripture verses and in envelopes for math and English. This year, my daughter keeps her verses in a designated notebook. Whatever method you choose, having their own reference sources to look to is another way of eventually memorizing the rules.
Tip Three: Start Each Day with Prayer and Gratitude
Our school day usually starts with our Bible and prayer time. Sometimes it doesn’t end up being the first subject for some reason, but it is not neglected. Even on the hardest days, I’m thankful—thankful for my family and thankful for the opportunity to spend my days with them, teaching, learning, laughing, and living. I never could have homeschooled without Him, without His grace and my family’s grace, and without the encouragement and help of friends. It’s important for children to know you pray with them and for them. We include intercession for troublesome subjects and for others we know who are hurting or sick.
Tip Four: Change Things Up to Avoid Boredom
Sometimes a routine gets predictable and boring. There is comfort in routine, but once in a while doing subjects in a different order or having a day of just doing experiments or taking a field trip is necessary to rejuvenate the thrill of learning. We have broken up a mundane part of the year with a unit study or a visit to a county or state park to explore nature. We’ve traced bodies and hung them on the wall to learn body systems. We’ve used puzzles to learn where states are. An occasional educational movie or program can also spark interests. I like to include reading aloud as part of our day. It is a time we all look forward to.
Tip Five: Let Your Children Pursue Interests
We all remember material better if we are enthusiastic about learning more. A perk of homeschooling is being able to incorporate special interests into your curricula. In our home, interests varied from weather to woodworking to insects to horses to drawing and painting with water colors. Helping each to find books and projects blessed both of us, encouraged them, and helped them discover how all the subjects are incorporated into different aspects of life. Learning when you don’t think it is work is the best kind of learning.
I hope you found one or all helpful. I pray you will have a happy time learning with your children. What tips have you discovered in your family’s educational journey?