If you can do nothing else for your child during the homeschool years (but of course you can) do your best to encourage a love of learning. Once they love learning then teaching them become much easier.
I feel that this will look different for every child but following are some ways we've been encouraging our daughter that might inspire or help you too.
The Montessori Approach for Encouraging Little People
Start small. When your children are little you can't wait until they can do such and such by themselves. Oh that day cannot come soon enough! So you start teaching them bit by bit how to do certain things for themselves. To foster independence as they grow.
I think that's what appealed to me about the Montessori Approach when my daughter was young.
In a nutshell the Montessori Approach is about creating an environment that invites your child to interact and learn and discover. The method encourages them to be independent as they interact with things around them.
When my daughter was teensy tiny I read a book or two on the Montessori Approach and fell in love with the idea (probably because everything was in miniature LOL!). I thought it was a great way to encourage her natural curiousity. Yes I spent a small mint on teeny tiny tools for my daughter but boy we had fun (we still do)! We had little tea parties (that she remembers to this day), she loved pouring water, helping mommy clean, pouring rice, beans, sand. Whatever we could get our hands on.
The Montessori Approach goes well with the childhood years. Developed from the work of Dr. Maria Montessori this style of teaching is super kid friendly and focused. The basic (very basic) idea is to encourage your small one to interact with and care for their environment (aka the home and garden). And to customize their environment for them. The Montessori Approach is also structured to encourage the learning process for your child.
I started Montessori style activities with my daughter before we did any actual schooling (a,b,c's et al). These were some of the activities she did…
- Pouring Water (which morphed into our tea parties where she would pour the “tea”)
- Hand washing (anything with water floated her boat)
- Sweeping and Mopping
- Cleaning Windows
- Spreading stuff on crackers (again part of the tea party morph)
- Cutting bananas, and apples
- and some more stuff I've forgotten
Window Washing Activity
Sound really cute eh? I thought so and it was. I won't say our daughter went on to fold all the laundry, clean all the windows, and sweep and mop the whole floor but where this paid off in her learning of independence was the kitchen. The cutting, spreading thing was the activity that spoke to her. To this day she loves putting together pretty plates of fruits, cheeses, and crackers for her lunch. She makes beautiful breakfasts for the family and I tend to put her on veggie detail when she's in the kitchen with me.
Finding inspiration during the grade school years
It's not that many years past the Montessori days but when our daughter moved into the grade school years it was all about learning about healthy bodies, nutrition, personal hygiene, and the like for our daughter. Since this was what was happening in her own body she couldn't get enough of the topic. She used her newfound knowledge to work up vitamin plans for us (her parents), exercise schedules we fought against, and an eating plan her naturopath helped her to tweak.
To encourage this area of learning I helped her find exercise videos just for her age (ending eventually in gymnastics where she is today), got books on caring for body, and we were blessed to be able to review a few homeschool products on these changing years (you can read those here and here).
We are headed towards the end of the middle school years now and there is a shift happening to more independence in general learning. Over the summer our daughter became interested all her courses. In doing well in all her courses. She has been self motivated to get up early, read, watch her lessons, go through oral quizzes and work on homework and projects.
It's been that whole teach a man to fish thing happening here and it's exciting!
How Can you Encourage Your Student in Learning?
- Celebrate when you make a breakthrough. Some topics have been cry worth in homeschool. It's a delicate time when new methods have been tried and long breaks have happened. When we finally conquered what ails us such as with long division was conquered we make to celebrate and tell daddy as soon as he walks in the door. I try not to make her full or herself but I want her to appreciate how far she is coming and growing.
- Read to each other. We don't do this daily as we both like to curl up with a good book by ourselves but we do have our read aloud sessions. Especially history. History is super fun to delve into.
- Talk about your own ongoing education. I take a lot of courses and read lots of books (does it show?). Knowing that mommy is also going through something similar creates camaraderie. We do our homework together.
- Turn an interest into an educational experience. I know you've heard this one. Capitalize on what they are interested in. For my daughter it is animals and history. Example we are expecting a new family member in the form of a kitten soon. As part of the preparation much studying of cats is going on here. Another example is her love of fruit. She is now the family fruit buyer which incorporates part home ec and part math.
- When you can make it exciting. How this will look in your own homeschool will differ but many lessons can be expanded beyond the bookwork. One easy way
How do you encourage your student in their learning?