Most of us have started school by now. I hope it’s smooth sailing for my readers out there! For our family, we struggle after each break we take to stay on task. It’s especially hard because Blueberry Ball doesn’t like to sit still. He’s the oldest, and as such, he’s required to do a lot more of the work I give him independently. In first grade, he is capable of quite a bit of seat work. Here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned and used along our homeschooling journey to help him stay motivated, engaged, and focused.
First Things First
I’ve tried many different methods of scheduling in the past, but the one thing I’ve always gone back to when ordering our day is that if he does the fun (in his case the easier) subjects first, the rest gets lost in the shuffle. Having him do his English practice first is key for us completing the day’s tasks. You can’t make the hardest items all you do for the beginning of the day either though. He has handwriting/ copy work that corresponds with the week’s language practice and spelling words, but it is just not feasible at all for him to be expected to complete that when he just completed another subject he hates. We do that after he’s completed his math (he LOVES math).
Find a system that works for your child, then stick with it. He thrives on structure, so I do try to remain consistent, but I’m not afraid to change things up if they just aren’t working.
Of course, I always allow time in the schedule for us to go over things together. New concepts are always taught by me before going to seat work, and I always give him the opportunity to play a game or have fun activities to break up the boredom. I’ve found that one of the most valuable things I’ve purchased by far for our home school walk has been the Abeka K5 charts and games. We pull at least one out each day to help him with flashcard facts and other reviews needed. We also have many versions of Bingo, lapbooks, using toys for counters, and even simple board games and card games.
“Sparky The Dog Topper” from Abeka was also a great tool for both my children. You could use any fun animal on the end of a pencil, ruler, or chopstick to help their eyes follow along on the page or whiteboard as you teach new concepts or as they complete a reading assignment.
Another trick for engagement would be to simply ask him questions and make conversation starters.
It may be an obvious one for a lot of home school parents out there (after all, why home school if you can’t have fun), but it’s a “task” that I can all too easily overlook when I focus too much on the weekly/ monthly goals.
Break It Up
I feel like this one should have been a no-brainer for me, but this was actually my husband’s recent suggestion. Between each subject/ assignment I’ve started giving him a small break. 5-15 minutes is all it takes. It encourages him with a sort of reward and it keeps his mind fresh with each new topic. Again, this one may be obvious, but it turned out to be a total game-changer for us.
Give Me Some More Ideas!
I am quite honestly looking constantly for new ideas to keep my children engaged, encouraged, excited, and focused. What has worked in your classroom? I read every comment and would love to hear from you below.