If you are a homeschool parent, your school year is likely in full-swing after a careful summer of planning and preparation.
But after a few weeks of hitting the books, even the most energetic parent can begin to see burnout in themselves and their kids – after all, you are teacher AND parent, “on call”virtually twenty-four hours a day!
There are many resources for homeschool parents who may be stuck in a rut and looking for ways to spark their children’s interests and creativity. But the best way to prevent homeschool burnout for the whole family may be one that would not immediately come to mind – play.
Parenting Science reported:
Playful behavior appears to have positive effects on the brain and on a child’s ability to learn. In fact, play may function as an important, if not crucial, mode for learning.
Most play involves exploration, and exploration is, by definition, an act of investigation, and there is also empirical evidence that kids treat play as a tutorial for coping with real life challenges.
Play is not just for the little ones. The act of playing while learning can actually reinforce lessons and skills in children of all ages and studies have shown that when parents are engaged in play with their children, the benefits multiply for everyone.
Homeschooling has become such a popular and accepted alternative to public and private schooling in the last decade that there are literally thousands of great ideas to keep homeschooling fun and engaging for the whole family.
By incorporating playful activities into the school day, children are more apt to stay engaged in the lesson. Creative activities also benefit the homeschooling parent by finding ways to target each child’s unique interests and talents.
When you are both parent and teacher, it is common to get overwhelmed in your role. After all, you are raising your child and providing for their educational needs. Planning fun activities as a break from academics is not only good for the kids, it’s good for the teacher’s spirit, as well.
HSLDA’s Homeschooling Now reminds homeschooling parents to:
Make it fun! Feel free to take a Mental Health Day when you are feeling burned out! Play chess, paint pictures, go creek-stomping, or spend the day reading fun books out loud or individually. Sometimes you need shake up the routine a little bit to re-charge. Give yourself permission to do this. Your kids will still be learning, even though you are not strictly following your lesson plans for the day.
Virtually any subject can benefit from a playful spin on the day’s lessons. This is one of the most joyful aspects of homeschooling – the ability to be creative and not just follow along in a textbook or workbook of monotonous questions.
For reading and language arts, you can make a day of play around whatever book you are currently reading in your home classroom. Both parent and child can dress as their favorite characters (even making their own costumes), plan and prepare a meal around the theme of the book, and act out portions of the story.
Even math and science can benefit from creative play. Use play dough, blocks, or even candy to work out math problems, and have some fun in the kitchen combining ingredients for a fun outcome that teaches the science of things we use every day – teach your kids that cooking and baking are a science in themselves!
The blog, She Knows, has some other creative ideas to share to keep your homeschool spark alive:
*Weather permitting– move lessons outdoors. Take lessons to a nature park or just take them to the backyard for the day — or take a walk or a bike ride after lunch. Instead of getting back to the books, go out for some exercise and discuss your surroundings, ask questions or enjoy casual conversation.
*Cold rainy or snowy day? Have a pajama day and snuggle up to read science, history, social studies aloud as a family. Allow time for plenty of discussion and questions.
*Throw an art party! Bust out the play dough, molding clay, paints, crayons, pencils, chalk, paper, craft supplies, glue and glitter. This party can be taken outdoors for mom’s sanity.
*Let the children host a lunch and invite a friend or family member. Children can make invitations, plan a meal, do the cooking and make sure their guests are taken care of and entertained properly.
*Go camping! Whether indoors or out in the backyard. Have your children plan and organize a camp where they will do lessons, eat and play together.
The beauty of homeschooling is that you are not on anyone’s schedule but your family’s. Every activity can lead to teachable moments and the quality time they will spend in educational play is something they will never forget.
Children truly do better retain information when they learn in a hands-on, interactive way — no one enjoys sitting for hours on end trying to pay attention to boring material.
Not only will your kids love school when you incorporate playful activities into your lessons, the memories you are making with them are priceless.
The possibilities for making learning fun are literally endless!
(h/t Mommy Underground)