I remember sitting in our brand new homeschool room with the entire week planned out. Worksheets printed. Books on the shelf ready to be read. And Baloo (5 at the time) refused to do all of it. “But learning is fun” I told him. He didn’t want to write, he didn’t want to color. So I pressed on. “You will do this work”.
That attitude did not last long but it is still my biggest homeschooling regret. We wanted to homeschool because learning is fun. And I had planned a lot of really fun activities that I thought would appeal to a 5 year old Baloo. But looking through his eyes I realized that he wanted a bit of independence. He wanted an opportunity to be himself.
So I involved him in the planning process. It probably took twice as long and I had to tailor a few things specifically to his wishes. But he did his work without (much) complaining. He enjoyed learning. And as a result, he retained much more information.
It was as simple as saying “What do you want to learn about this week?” One week he said space. So I found every resource on space I could. We read space books. We did space math. We wrote about space.
Now, nearly 5 years later, he is still involved, as are his brothers. Here are 10 ways we involve them in homeschool decisions:
- Let them pick unit studies to work on alongside our core work.
- Let them choose the order in which we do our subjects on any given day.
- Give them independent work they can choose from. (We use Prodigy, Khan Academy, and Teach Your Monster to Read. They can play any or all during their time)
- Take a break (a day, a week) and let them lead. Whatever they want to learn, we learn!
- Let them choose the books. The boys choose every book we read, although this year I think I will have a list for them to choose from.
- When practicing things like math facts, give them a selection of games to choose from. We just found multiplication.com and I think it will be very useful.
- Let them invent games. I’ll admit, this is not the best use of times. Our games usually end up with some wacky rules but I can usually slip some math or reading practice in. Great imagination boost too!
- Have them read out loud – to whom or whatever they want. We read to siblings, parents, grandparents, cats, stuffed animals, etc.
- Those days when nothing is going right – we take a vote and leave the house wherever we want (This does not always work because sometimes they take a vote to go to the moon…but we do our best to make it work).
- We try to periodically have a discussion with each child (especially Baloo, and now Royal) about what they like about homeschool and what they don’t like. We try to do more of the like and change up the dont-likes. I’d say once a month to once every-other-month has suited us well (and in between if needed).
Homeschooling isn’t always smooth or easy. But we’ve been able to work out some kinks and get into a really good groove. Nearly every time we are at the library one child will request to get books on a certain subject. We’ve learned about all kinds of fun things this way.