One of my favorite things about homeschooling is that I can customize it to fit my child’s needs. Every child has a different learning style, and every child has their own unique interests. When you are the teacher, you can tailor everything to fit your child.
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An Advantage to Homeschooling
Tailoring your homeschool to suit your child
Every schooling option has it’s own set of pros and cons, and thus every family will have their own preference for educating their children. My preference is to homeschool, and this is a huge part of why!
I want to customize my children’s education to suit their needs.
That isn’t something you can do in a class of 30 to 35 kids.
Now, this isn’t meant to be a dig at public school (or private school, for that matter). Public school is completely different than home school, and comes with it’s own set of benefits and downfalls.
Right now, I want to focus on how you can use your child’s interests to direct their education at home.This of this as a lite version of “child-led” learning. If you’re into unschooling, you are already following the individual interests of your children, which is great! But this post is meant more for those who are newer to homeschooling, or who are trying to break away from traditional book-learning curriculum.
Do you want your child to look forward to school time each day?
Great! Let’s get started! Make a list of the things your child loves to do.
- General Transportation (Cars, Planes, Trains…)
Now, really, Evan loves more than that. But this is just a basic list. Some of these are easy to connect to homeschooling (anatomy, reading), but others you may not be sure of at first. That’s ok!
How do I use my child’s interests to help them love learning?
I’m going to go through some of Evan’s interests and come up with ideas, and hopefully that will get you thinking about how you can do the same!
My boys love vehicles, so in December, we went to museums! We visited Dossin Great Lakes Museum which had all kinds of things related to boats. Another place we visited was the Air Zoo in Portage, Michigan, which had planes AND an area about space! The boys had a blast at both of these places.
We wanted to check out a Natural History Museum, but didn’t get around to it. Instead, that’s in the plans for spring. Never be afraid to take field trips! Take as many as you can. “Homeschooling” doesn’t have to take place at HOME all the time! Break out of that box. Heck, you can go to the park, the library, a cafe, anywhere. Which segues into…
My boys love dinosaurs, and while I do have books about dinosaurs, there are other ways to learn too! Put Dinosaur Train on (it’s on Hulu and Netflix) and let them learn without even realizing it. Get them an excavation kit for some hands-on learning. Read fictional stories like Larry Gets Lost in Prehistoric Times!
A good first step into robotics is to make robot crafts, like this one my husband did with the boys. Build robots with LEGOs (yep, Evan’s been really into that). Or you can get an actual build a robot kit! I’ve been looking at a couple on Amazon because Evan insists he needs to build a real metal robot.
I know a lot of kids are interested in bugs! One unconventional way to learn about them is with The Magic School Bus, which is available on Netflix. We’ve gotten books about bugs, as well as toy bugs to play with. My favorite thing we’ve done in relation to bugs is the ladybug land kit that we bought, where we got to watch the ladybugs mature. I look forward to getting the butterfly garden kit next!
I know you’re probably wondering how superheroes can be educational, but oh they can be! Superheroes teach many valuable life skills, it just depends on which superhero your kid loves. For example, Evan loves Iron Man. Iron Man is Tony Stark – and Tony Stark doesn’t have any super powers. He’s just a normal, albeit rich, guy who built a great invention. Superheroes are also great for the imagination, and for engaging in pretend play. Furthermore, shows like Super Why! use superheroes to pique kids interest while helping them learn.
It’s been hard for me to let the boys have unlimited access to books, for fear of them ruining the books, but I do feel it’s better than have access to books all the time. I like to buy books often, and we also receive books from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.
Neither of my boys are reading right now, so I really love story cards! It’s a great way to get them creating their own stories, and I know that “reading” pictures is a great pre-reading skill. There is no reason for me to force my boys to read the actual words by any set age. In public school, I believe it’s more important that kids read early so that they can self-direct, at least that’s my opinion. There’s so many worksheets and tests, that reading is vital skill for sucess. At home, not quite. We can afford to wait a little longer.
Some people prefer to use worksheets and follow a traditional curriculum, but I would say that you really shouldn’t force that before your child is ready. Evan is 4, and he’s not ready. Some 4 year olds are, some 6 year olds aren’t. It’s all individual, and you know your child best.
Evan is at the age where he has questions about everything. One of those things is anatomy… yeah. We bought this awesome magnetic anatomy set from Melissa and Doug that he enjoys, as well as a few other things. Mostly, we just talk about it when it comes up, though. For example, Evan saw an ultrasound picture on my Facebook once and we started talking about fetal development. It was interesting. The Magic School Bus has episodes, books and science kits relating to anatomy as well.
With almost any interest, you can find free or cheap themed printables! Check out Pinterest, and Teachers Pay Teachers. Follow mom bloggers and homeschoolers on social media, too! I see a lot of neat things on Pinterest and Instagram especially.
But what about the basics?
Actually, a lot of the basics are naturally intertwined with everything else. Other ways to learn math, for example, would include grocery shopping, dealing with money, and playing board games.
So if your kid hates learning from worksheets, reevaluate things. Look into ways to make it fun. It won’t always work that way, but there really is a lot to be said for making education FUN, and making fun educational.
Do you customize your child’s education to their interests?