I’m a teacher and former homeschool parent. I’ve explored learning theory inside out and found home an ideal teaching environment. It’s best-suited to real-life learning experiences. Parents, you don’t have call yourself a “homeschooler.” Because parenting IS educating. Here are effective ways to teach children using everyday family activities.
* You can teach. First, let’s put this educator mystique to rest. Yes, some of us parents are certified teachers. Are we better parents? I don’t even know if we’re better teachers! Parents are their child’s first-and-always teachers (whether you like it or not). She learns more from you than everyone else combined. And loving your child trumps any degree.
* Be mindful of what you teach. Your children are watching. They see what you do and hear what you say, even though it may not seem like it. And they imitate. So make sure you’re teaching healthy, safe habits and proactive, positive skills.
* Senses speak louder than words. There’s an old saying “I hear, I forget. I see, I remember. I do, I learn.” Though children can listen, their ability to understand language is still developing. Explore with all senses. Provide multi-sensory experiences–what we call in Montessori and special education–VAKT–visual, auditory, kinesthetic, tactile. Taste food. Walk in nature. Smell and discuss flowers. Listen to and label sounds. Touch surfaces and describe sensations.
* Show more than tell. Children learn best by doing. And they imitate better if you do rather than just discuss. Children attend less if we just talk. For little ones, most of what we say is still babble. Even older kids need demonstration–to properly throw a frisbee, care for a pet, read a book or solve algebraic equations.
* Use everyday experiences. Repairing something? Preparing a meal? Explain as you do it, what you’re doing and why. Then let kids get dirty trying it themselves (with supervision and direction).
* Model what you want them to copy and expect them to follow through. Parents avoid letting kids help as they might make messes or get hurt. So teach safety and cleanup. Demonstrate how to operate appliances, handle food safely, sanitize equipment. Show correct tool usage, cleanup, storage. Show that it’s important, by doing it yourself. Then expect compliance.
Our children learned everything “at our side.” They grew up helping, exploring, trying new things, failing, learning from mistakes and finally succeeding. Yours will too.