Over the past two weeks, I’ve spent some time sharing how to homeschool preschool and the early years in a relaxed, yet effective manner. This laid back approach to learning at home doesn’t stop being beneficial once children begin to achieve more advanced skills. The core foundation of simplicity remains the same, although some additional activities will make their way into the routine as your children’s interests grow.
As children grow, so does their capacity to understand more difficult concepts. At this time, they may also begin to feel restless with a mainly play-based learning approach and may request something more. Don’t let this take you by surprise. The good news is that there are so many natural and accessible ways to accommodate their ever-changing needs. In fact, to many parents, this is an especially exciting time because, quite often, this is when kids will “get to the good stuff.”
All of the learning principles that were discussed in my post for the early years still apply and are as important as they were in the younger years. As a refresher, these options include:
- Focusing on the 3 R’s
- Unit studies
- Maintaining a learning-rich environment
- Reading, reading, and reading some more
- Including your child in day-to-day life responsibilities
- Visual Media
I’m going to tell you straight away that if your child is content and thriving by using these simple methods, continue with what you are doing. There is no need to change something that’s working well. But…as I mentioned, some children in this age group may begin to yearn for something more.
If that is the case, here are some additional ideas for:
How to Homeschool Your Middle Years Child Simply
– Institute a daily reading time.
Now that your children are likely independent readers, it’s important that you are diligent about setting a time everyday for them to quietly read to themselves. Whether you choose their books for them or allow them to is up to you, but I strongly suggest that you do give them the freedom to choose once in a while because they’re more likely to want to read then.
It’s also up to you whether or not you continue reading aloud to them at this point. Speaking from experience, I strongly encourage you to continue reading to them as long as possible because the benefits are so numerous. I know there are some of you who dislike reading aloud. Audio books are a wonderful alternative to solve that problem!
– Consider more in-depth unit studies.
Children around this age are often able to delve more deeply into subjects than they could when they were younger. Work with them to plan a unit around an interest of theirs. Be careful, though, not to ruin it by going overboard. It is possible to have too much of a good thing.
– Take full advantage of the library.
Today’s libraries offer so much more than books. Find a good local library and visit it often. Many of them offer free classes, story hours, game nights, book clubs, and so much more.
– Stock up on supplies and do some experimenting.
There are so many awesome science experiments that are available at your fingertips. Pinterest and YouTube are fabulous resources for exciting and off-the-wall activities that you may have never even heard of before. Give your kids the time, space, and opportunity to learn through creative and educational hands-on ideas.
– Consider project-based learning.
Like science experiments, project-based learning is wonderful for kinesthetic, or hands-on, learners. Project-based learning is similar to unschooling in that it takes the interests of the child and focuses solely on them. Rather than simply taking things as they come, however, project-based learners use their imaginations and devise wonderful ways to explore their interests by creating, oftentimes, elaborate and unique projects that are wonderfully effective at providing mastery learning.
– Go on plenty of field trips.
This is the perfect age to begin visiting places you may have avoided before, such as museums, historical re-enactments, theater productions, and musical performances. Sometimes being physically present and seeing things in person, rather than hearing about them, is just enough for something to click that may have been a difficult area before.
– Give notebooking or lapbooking a shot.
A good portion of children at this age are finally at the point where they can write well enough to express themselves about the things they’ve been learning. Notebooking is a very laid-back, yet fun, way to get your kids to write without hating it. I highly recommend clicking on the notebooking link I provided because there are so many informative how-to videos and notebooking freebies.
Lapbooking is similar to notebooking, although it often includes more visual and artistic aspects and may be better for kids who enjoy cutting and pasting.
In a nutshell:
Although your child is getting older, by no means does this mean that they should now be sitting for six hours a day doing seat work. If adults have a hard time doing that, why should we expect energetic children to do it?
Here’s an example of what a typical day of a middle years simple homeschool might look like:
- Read-aloud and/or silent reading time (20-30 minutes)
- Three R’s (20-60 minutes)
- Activity time, which may include unit studies, projects, science experiments, notebooking, or lapbooking (30-60 minutes)
- Playing, drawing, crafting
- Outside play
- Helping around the house
- Watching interesting and educational movies or videos
- Going on field trips
- Attending library programs and/or visiting to choose books
- Continuing with science experiments or other activities that may have caught their interest
Remember that this is just an example of what a relaxed homeschool day might look like. Only you know your family and what everyone’s individual needs and strengths are. Keep that in mind as you’re planning your days. Most importantly, remember that your role as a homeschooling parent is to give your children the tools and experience they need to become independent and vibrant learners because, ultimately, that is what homeschooling is all about.