By: Hannah Graves, JNDA Teacher
It happens every year. You and your family are enjoying a wonderful summer, full of grill-outs by the pool, vacations, and exciting new adventures; then – bam! – out of nowhere, the start of school is here. When school “sneaks” up in this way, it takes a long time to get back into the school routine, especially when it comes to schooling at home where life and school can be somewhat mixed together. However, there are a few ways you can make this transition a little less painful and much more gradual, and you might even get excited for the upcoming year!
Create a space in your home that is specifically for school.
One of the most important elements for a successful homeschool experience is creating an environment that fosters and encourages learning. Have you ever sat down at a cluttered desk and found that you can’t concentrate because it feels like you have so much to do? Or have you ever tried to write an email while lying in bed and found that you suddenly felt lethargic? Children are the same way! The environment around us greatly impacts our level of focus and creativity, so beginning work in an environment that is not geared towards learning is like starting a race two steps behind the starting line.
One of the greatest benefits of homeschooling is that you can create a learning space that is catered specifically to the needs of your child. However, there are a few qualities that the space must have in order to truly encourage learning. First, it must be free from other distractions of life. If you choose to have your child work at a desk or table, make sure to avoid adding clutter to the table such as mail, magazines, or other random items that need to be put away. For this reason, I would discourage having your child work regularly at the kitchen table. It is also important to make sure that toys, videogames, and TVs are not constantly available as a temptation or distraction. Second, your child’s workspace should have all of his or her needed materials at hand. That way, when it is time to begin working on the lessons for the day, you won’t need to spend much time searching for materials. And third, cater the space to fit the needs of your child. Consider different aspects of a school space (such as a desk, music, and types of lighting) and decide if these aspects help or hinder your child’s ability to focus and learn. If you don’t already have a space set up, try creating one together with your child. This gives you both a chance to talk about the upcoming school year and it might even give your child something to look forward to!
Do activities that create a love for learning.
One principle I always try to stress to my students is that learning doesn’t have to be restricted to school. Many people, adults and children alike, equate learning with flashcards, worksheets, and textbooks. Because of this, learning has become a chore rather than a joy. But, it doesn’t have to be this way, and summer is the perfect time to create a love for learning in your child.
But if you aren’t using worksheets or textbooks, what is the best way for your child to learn? New experiences. There are so many fun activities you can do as a family that help your child learn without even realizing it. For example, take a trip to a local museum, zoo, or nature center. These types of places are filled with various opportunities to learn about history and the environment, and it will be a more memorable experience for your child than just reading a textbook on these subjects. If you want to stay home, try an experiment* like making slime or building a bird house. The options are endless, but the most important thing is that you are having fun learning together as a family.
*Every Saturday in August, we will be posting some awesome science activities that you can do at home. Be sure to check them out on our blog!
Make the most of the summer.
Finally, one of the best ways to gear up for the school year is to truly make the most of summer break. Children need a break from the monotony of school. Spending time playing and relaxing not only restores their energy for the upcoming school year, but it also gives opportunities that will foster the creativity that will help them succeed throughout the school year. So, go on trips, spend time outdoors, and try new things together as a family and make the most of the wonderful break you have been given.