As autumn approaches, hot days subside, soon to be replaced by whispers of the new school year. With the breeze of excitement surrounding this new homeschool season comes the pressure of planning, organization, and hopes of achieving a smoother and more efficient year of learning.
One of my secrets to a successful school year is to include my children in the school prep process. As a child participates in back-to-homeschool preparations, he gains a sense of ownership which will motivate him to become more focused on learning. Furthermore, working together toward this common goal helps your child feel connected with you.
Here are five effective ways you can involve your child in the school preparation process.
1) Have your child help refresh his learning space
It is easier to concentrate in a clean and organized space. By coordinating a joint effort in the initial cleaning and arrangement of your child’s learning space, you are training your child to maintain his workspace throughout the year.
You are also stewarding opportunities to instill valued cleanliness, organization, communication, and teamwork skills. Employers will tell you that being able to effectively function as a team member is a valued skill. They look for it when hiring employees, along with other essential skills: problem-solving, communication, and conflict management. As time goes on, your child will find great value in the foundation of skills you are cultivating, discovering ever more ways in which those skills apply throughout his life.
As your child grows, his skill level will naturally improve, allowing him to apply what he has learned to increasingly complex projects. Considering your child’s age and capabilities, have him help you with the following tasks.
Check for dried up markers and glue sticks
Make a list of school supplies that need to be replenished
Organize school supplies (pencils, glues, rulers, paper, notebooks, etc.)
Organize learning tools (books, electronics, STEM kits, etc.)
Gather items to throw away if they are worn out
Place items in a box to donate or store if they are irrelevant to this year’s learning plan
Clean (dust, take out garbage, and vacuum)
Tip: Refrain from micromanaging your child. Simply let him help. After he is finished, share a few tips on how he can improve his work next time.
2) Have your child help personalize his learning space.
I tend to spend more time in areas of my home that are relaxing and contain items that interest me. Establish an enjoyable learning space for your child by taking extra care to decorate with his interests in mind. When allocating a learning space for your child, consider whether your child likes company or whether he prefers to study in a quiet environment.
Place a few books related to your child’s interests on a shelf near his workspace, in a basket, or on a cart. (Replace the books with new titles of interest throughout the year.)
Hang pictures and decorate his space with items that reflect his interests and personality. (Themes are always a fun addition)
If your child works at the kitchen table or at your living room couch with a TV tray, use baskets or a cart to accommodate learning materials. Personalization can be implemented in the form of personalized mobile device covers or decorating and organizing his basket or cart.
As you tune-in to your child’s interests, worries, and motivations, you can better help him run excitedly toward his goals. By including your child in the process of school preparation, you will reassure your child that his opinions are valued, giving him more confidence in who he is.
3) Discuss your child’s wish lists.
Ask your child about museums he would like to visit.
Ask your child about monuments, states, or national parks he would like to visit.
Ask your child what type of games he would be interested in and plan time to play a game after lunch a few times each week.
Ask your child what he would like to do if he had an hour of free time each day.
Ask your child if there is anything he would like to know more about.
4) Have your child help set his goals.
Discuss your child’s spiritual and educational goals for the school year. (Write your child’s goals in a notebook, planner, or in an educational portfolio.)
Have your child select a Bible verse relevant to something he would like to work on or be reminded of throughout the year. (Showcase his chosen verse on the covers of his 3 ring binders or write it on a chalkboard near his workspace.)
5) Help your child see the value in his learning.
Talk to your child about his interests, skills, and spiritual gifts.
Research options for interest-related books, elective courses, or extracurricular activities.
Ask him to help you think of ways he can sharpen these assets (apprenticeship, volunteering, or visiting an adult with an interest related job or hobby).
Remind your child that no learning is wasted. He will use various aspects of what he has learned as he serves others in ever-expanding ways throughout his life.
When you include your child in the back-to-homeschool preparation process, you are taking extra steps to connect, grow, and positively impact your child. Implement these simple yet effective ways to involve your child in school prep to ensure a great start to your year. Be prepared to enjoy a homeschool year filled with excitement, learning, and interest-related adventures!
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