Raising children is not child’s play, but can it be? In the last year, we decided to sell our home and downsize to full time RV living so we could travel and afford to homeschool (or Roadschool) our kids. Part of our decision came from our son’s emotional and behavioral needs. The ability to offer him hands-on learning has been pretty incredible. His learning has accelerated, but we were still struggling to keep him engaged in learning.
Here are eleven strategies we’ve been implementing to keep our naturally wild learner engaged and excited about school.
Keep Them Moving
Parents, hear me when I say that this is a game changer for wild learners. If you involve both intentional movement and allow movement while doing the mundane, your learner can wildly excel. Our son’s ADHD is focused and dialed in when we allow him to use Legos in math lessons, yoga before reading, and stand or sway while he finishes worksheets. This one strategy alone has helped tremendously. Click HERE for a recommended Lego set for learning ($13 off), and HERE for the yoga we love ($7 off).
Get Them Outside and Let Them Get Dirty
Why do we imagine a world where parenting doesn’t include car seats filled with stale goldfish cracker crumbs and school desks that aren’t covered in finger paints. Is that even momming? Not in my world.
Friends, we need to let our students get wrist deep in mud pies, build towers with marshmallows, and bury their boots in pond water. Not only does this assist our son’s sensory needs, but it also forces him to problem solve, think on his feet, and be creative. We have had so much fun and learned so much spending our time in piles of dirt this year!
Mix In What They Don’t Prefer And Make It Fun
Even though our son’s reading level is accelerated, this is not a subject he enjoys. The fact that reading seems boring to him means that we have to be extra creative with how we incorporate it into his everyday lessons. Some strategies we have attempted are reading outside, reading hanging upside down, reading in a homemade fort, reading underneath tables or desks, and reading to others. He also enjoys using the voice record feature on his smart watch to record himself and play it back.
Parents, we have to put aside how crazy things seem to us if it helps our little ones tolerate and even enjoy the less than pleasurable subjects for them. It is important that we do not push our own interests on our students. Nurturing what they are good at doing and what they enjoy can allow them to thrive as learners.
Keep Their Hands As Busy As Their Brains
For younger students and kids with behavior and sensory concerns, this is a crucial step to success. Instead of giving a workbook or a printed packet, consider doing word studies or slower lessons on the floor or the wall. Create an activity or a game out of want your students need to learn. This will hook their attention and keep them engaged int he lesson.
Let Them Experiment
Experimentation should not stop at science. It is important, especially if your students struggle managing emotions or defeat, to allow them to fail. This not only encourages their abilities to handle difficult situations, but it also increases their creativity. Our son has made snow, launched a rocket, built a volcano, and inspected insects and loved every minute of it. He has also taken scavenger hunts for everything from English to history. This spices up what could otherwise be mundane learning.
Make A Killer Homeschool (or RoadSchool, as we call it) Space
Your space needs to be somewhere that your students feel calm and at peace. There is no one way to do this. Just remember to consider your child’s needs and choose the right items from desks to decor. Some items we recommend as must-haves are:
The Wobble Chair ($20 off!)
Inflatable Pea Pod Hammok (on sale!)
Ball Pit (half off!)
Sensory Sock (on sale here-we LOVE to use this while reading)
Allow Their Interests To Guide Their Learning
Whether your child loves cooking or astronauts, allowing their interests to guide your lesson planning can result in a more engaged learner. This requires a lot of flexibility and, for me, that has been a major adjustment. However, the payoff of going from planning months in advance to planning week to week has been incredible. Now, we take trips and move through lessons about everything from military vehicles to planets and careers.
Try A Unit Study
Allowing your students’ interests to guide their learning naturally progresses to a unit study in most cases. It tends to become easier on the lesson planner to break lessons up into week or two-week studies focused on one main subject. You can incorporate almost every content area into one area of interest. For instance, our son has been interested in firefighters lately. We did a unit study on community heroes where we baked cookies for our local fire station. He was able to choose the recipe, plan the grocery trip, figure prices and budget, and do all of the measurements. We also had him create a fire exit plan for our home and learned about firefighter history. We took a trip to the local fire house where they showed him around, taught him about equipment, etc. It was incredible and it incorporated history, writing, spelling, and math.
Include The Arts
While physical fitness is important, many children are naturally drawn to attempt some type of team sport while the arts can be allowed to slip through the cracks. Please understand that including the arts in learning should go beyond crafts to allowing your children to experience art and music history, try music or singing or dancing lessons, and incorporating appreciation for museums. This will expose children to cultural experience at a young age. This gives our children a hands-on learning experience and allows them to explore interests they may have or decide that they should move on to trying something else.
Incorporating field trips in homeschool is just as exciting as it is for children in public school. Mixing up the learning environment is so positive for learners of all ages. Students who need more space to run and roam especially thrive on trips because it allows them to see, hear, taste, and touch things instead of traditional learning.
Parents, don’t think that trips have to be expensive and long. A simple ride to a local park to hike can teach your child about plant identification, bird watching, and even physical fitness. You can incorporate free tours of local businesses where students can learn how certain careers operate or even see if a local food bank will allow your child to serve or prep a meal. There are incredible opportunities for our young students and they don’t have to cost a fortune.
Don’t Forget To Build In Breaks
Whether the breaks involve learning or are just for free play and running off energy, they are a crucial part of learning. Having the freedom to schedule for ourselves as homeschooling parents, is one not to be taken lightly. Build time in to do chores, go to the library or the grocery, whatever the day holds. This will allow for creative time for your students both in and outside of the classroom.
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